Meals on Wheels

ACS participates in the “March for Meals” to highlight Meals on Wheels program

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Local dignitaries from Amherstburg and LaSalle helped Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) highlight the Meals on Wheels program last week.

Amherstburg fire chief Bruce Montone joined volunteers in Amherstburg while LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya joined police and fire officials and volunteers in LaSalle.

“This day is to bring awareness to the community of our Meals on Wheels program,” said ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo.

DiBartolomeo said the “March for Meals” highlights the fact that people are now able to live independently in their own homes longer. She also noted that Meals on Wheels does not have to be a long-term commitment for people, as it can also be used on a short-term basis for people recovering from surgery or those needing it for other reasons if only for a brief time.

Austin Tyrrell, fundraising co-ordinator and community awareness co-ordinator with ACS, said they want to educate the community on the service and the fact it is not only for older adults.

Amherstburg fire chief Bruce Montone holds three totes used for Meals on Wheels. At left is Amherstburg Community Services executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo.

Montone said the Amherstburg Fire Department gets involved as they use it as a way to get into homes and ensure people are safe. While visiting with Meals on Wheels clients, Montone also checked smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they were in proper working order.

“It’s sort of a natural fit between ACS and our organization,” said Montone. “It’s become a natural partnership.”

ACS helps provide people “the basics of life,” Montone continued, and the Amherstburg Fire Department helps by making sure the residents are safe. In addition to checking smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, they also take other fire safety measures by making sure there aren’t any combustibles near appliances and that clutter isn’t an issue.

Both DiBartolomeo and Montone state that the carbon monoxide detector program, initiated last year with the assistance of the Amherstburg Rotary Club, is still ongoing and that people can call the Amherstburg Fire Department at 519-736-6500 or ACS at 519-736-5471 if they know of people in need.

Debbie Vigneux serves up one of the meals served in the Meals on Wheels kitchen at ACS.

“This is a way to make sure family and friends are also protected,” said Montone. “We need to think of the most vulnerable all year long.”

The “March for Meals” also allows ACS to showcase their other services as well, with DiBartolomeo stating people can always contact their office to see what other services are available.

“They can always call and get more information,” said DiBartolomeo.

People can also drop by at 179 Victoria St. S. or visit www.amherstburg-cs.com.

Local dignitaries helped participate in the “March for Meals” March 21. From left: Amherstburg Community Services executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo, Meals on Wheels volunteer Patricia Baker, Amherstburg fire chief Bruce Montone and Marlene Turkington.

Marlene Turkington, one of the Meals on Wheels clients visited last Wednesday morning, said she is impressed by not only Meals on Wheels, but the variety of programs ACS offers.

“I really think a lot of it,” she said. “There’s so many different things you can do.”

Turkington said she uses ACS for a number of different services. She also spoke highly of the volunteers that bring her food to her home for Meals on Wheels.

“The volunteers are very, very good,” she said. “It’s nice to have people checking up on you when they bring your food. You get some visitation as well.”

“March for Meals” initiative promotes Meals on Wheels

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The “March for Meals” campaign to promote Meals on Wheels received assistance again this year thanks to local politicians and officials.

Meals on Wheels is operated locally through Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, police chief Tim Berthiaume and deputy fire chief Lee Tome delivering meals to Amherstburg residents.

LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya and the respective police and fire chiefs of his community – John Leontowicz and Dave Sutton – delivered meals in their town as well as part of the “March for Meals” initiative.

ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo, police chief Tim Berthiaume, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and deputy fire chief Lee Tome helped promote Meals on Wheels last Wednesday morning.

ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo, police chief Tim Berthiaume, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and deputy fire chief Lee Tome helped promote Meals on Wheels last Wednesday morning.

“We are very pleased to have local leaders from Amherstburg and LaSalle help to spread the word about seniors and their needs,” said DiBartolomeo.

DiBartolomeo said Meals on Wheels assists in many ways, including allowing seniors to stay in their homes longer.

Having local dignitaries endorse the program by delivering meals helps assure people who may have questions about Meals on Wheels, she added.

“We hear lots of misconceptions about who Meals on Wheels are for and what its benefits are,” DiBartolomeo said.  “Having such respected individuals come out to support us will hopefully bring more attention to the program and spur people to take a closer look at how Meals on Wheels can change their lives and the lives of their loved ones.”

Tome said it is a good partnership the Amherstburg Fire Department has with ACS, noting the Meals on Wheels event is also a chance for fire officials to get into homes and help ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.

“(The initiative) allows the fire department to get into homes we don’t normally get into,” he said.

Tome said they know that many seniors may have difficulty maintaining their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, so by him being allowed into the home to deliver the meals, it allows him to help the homeowner and check the alarms for them.

Donato DiBartolomeo (centre) received a meal last Wednesday from police chief Tim Berthiaume, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Meals on Wheels volunteer Graeme Hutchinson and Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo.

Donato DiBartolomeo (centre) received a meal last Wednesday from police chief Tim Berthiaume, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Meals on Wheels volunteer Graeme Hutchinson and Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo.

The Amherstburg Fire Department is proud to be part of the program and to assist the residents that ACS serves, Tome added.

Berthiaume said he was happy to help bring awareness “to this valuable community program.

“I think we all know of someone who has received benefits of the Meals on Wheels program,” Berthiaume continued. “It really is an invaluable service.”

Berthiaume’s mother used to receive Meals on Wheels and had strong praise for the program.

“They are just wonderful. The people are all volunteers,” said Berthiaume. “This community is made up of terrific people.”

The mayor said it was an opportunity to meet people in the community he might not normally meet, as some have mobility issues that don’t allow them to get out as much.

“This is one time a year I get the opportunity to do what people do day in and day out,” said DiCarlo. “It is a privilege and an honour they invited me.”

DiCarlo called Meals on Wheels “an essential service” and hopes all communities have such a service or something similar. People who need something to volunteer for, including retirees, can get involved with the program.

“There’s always something to volunteer for,” said DiCarlo. “This is a great cause.”

“I dare say, that the Meals on Wheels program is the most thoughtful, caring, humane service we provide to the community,” Antaya said.

Antaya used to deliver meals, and still does when his schedule allows it.

“It is providing a service to those who need it. It empowers those who are delivering the service,” he added. “If you can brighten somebody`s day with a hot meal, plus a short visit of a few minutes, it restores our faith in human nature, if only for a moment. I love doing it.”

Ursula Eldracher, a long-time community volunteer, now is serviced by volunteers as she started receiving Meals on Wheels two months ago.

“It’s the best thing that has happened to me because I hadn’t been eating well,” she said. “All the meals are good. This gave me a chance to get more nutritious meals into my body.”

Eldracher received her meal Wednesday not only from volunteer Graeme Hutchinson, but DiBartolomeo, DiCarlo and Berthiaume as well with Tome being on another route. The amount of dignitaries, and media, that attended her home was something that made her “feel like a real VIP,” she remarked.

Donato DiBartolomeo received a meal at his home as well. He said he enjoys the food and that it allows him to eat healthier as well.

 

Amherstburg Fire Department teams with ACS during Fire Prevention Week

 

By Ron Giofu

The Amherstburg Fire Department and Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) teamed up during Fire Safety Week to ensure the homes of seniors are safe.

Deputy Chief Lee Tome and assistant deputy chief Ron Meloche toured with Meals on Wheels volunteers last Tuesday morning with the fire officials ensuring the seniors had working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

Tome said the fire department wanted to partner with ACS and its Meals on Wheels program so that they may be allowed into the seniors’ homes.

“This gives us the opportunity to check and make sure the clients’ homes have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms,” said Tome. “Many times they might not have the ability to check their smoke alarms or change the batteries. We like to get in there to make sure they are safe and that the carbon monoxide alarms and smoke alarms are working.”

Deputy Fire Chief Lee Tome (right) shows an expiration date on a smoke alarm to a local resident. The resident, who only wanted to be identified as Alicia due to safety concerns, wanted to ensure her home had enough alarms.

Deputy Fire Chief Lee Tome (right) shows an expiration date on a smoke alarm to a local resident. The resident, who only wanted to be identified as Alicia due to safety concerns, wanted to ensure her home had enough alarms.

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors also have a lifespan of ten years, the deputy chief added.

“If the date is over ten-years-old, it is time to replace them,” said Tome.

There was no charge to the seniors if they needed to have anything replaced, as a firefighter was dispatched to the homes that needed new equipment to replace it. There were no penalties imposed if a home did not have a functioning smoke or carbon monoxide alarm, either.

“We just want to make sure they are safe,” said Tome.

ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo said the agency is proud to partner with the Amherstburg Fire Department.

“We work hard to provide residents and their families with peace of mind. For many of our clients and their families, being alone at home can be frightening, and having the fire department visit like this is one more thing, on top of regular visits from our volunteers, that can put their minds at rest,” said DiBartolomeo.

Seniors also liked the initiative. Alicia, who didn’t want her last name used due to safety concerns, said she liked having Tome come into her home so that her and her husband knew how many smoke and carbon monoxide alarms they should have and to ensure they were working properly.

“It’s just a big safety issue for me,” she said. “We didn’t know whether we had enough. I’d rather know.”

Mayor, chiefs and others help promote Meals on Wheels

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A few local seniors got a little surprise when they received their daily meal from Meals on Wheels.

The program, offered locally by Amherstburg Community Service (ACS), was administered with the aid of Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, police chief Tim Berthiaume, assistant deputy chief Lee Tome and Capt. Ron Meloche from the Amherstburg Fire Department Wednesday morning. The initiative was also held in LaSalle where Mayor Ken Antaya assisted in delivering meals.

ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo said there were a number of reasons the local officials were called in again this year.

“It’s to bring awareness of senior nutrition and isolation,” said DiBartolomeo.

ACS' Meals on Wheels program received a boost March 23 thanks to people within the community and local town figures. From left: Heather Vandenham from Seasons Amherstburg, Chief Tim Berthiaume of Amherstburg police, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Amherstburg Fire Department assistant deputy chief Lee Tome, ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo and Capt. Ron Meloche of the Amherstburg Fire Department.

ACS’ Meals on Wheels program received a boost March 23 thanks to people within the community and local town figures. From left: Heather Vandenham from Seasons Amherstburg, Chief Tim Berthiaume of Amherstburg police, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Amherstburg Fire Department assistant deputy chief Lee Tome, ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo and Capt. Ron Meloche of the Amherstburg Fire Department.

The event allows people to know that not only are senior citizens receiving nutritious meals but also raises awareness of the needs of seniors.

ACS served 20,000 meals last year though its Meals on Wheels program, she added, up from the 6,000 meals the agency served in 2008.

“They do everything from scratch,” said DiBartolomeo.

Not only do meals get delivered to Amherstburg residents straight from the kitchen at ACS’s office at 179 Victoria St. S., DiBartolomeo said meals are also delivered in LaSalle, Harrow and McGregor. Meals are driven into LaSalle five days per week while volunteers drive meals into Harrow three days per week.

Rosemary Smith receives her food from Meals on Wheels from Mayor Aldo DiCarlo March 23.

Rosemary Smith receives her food from Meals on Wheels from Mayor Aldo DiCarlo March 23.

DiCarlo said he was “flattered” to be asked to help out.

“It’s really an honour and privilege to be invited to participate in something like this,” said DiCarlo. “Being involved in the community is one of the best things you can do. The people who do this day after day should be recognized.”

Doing the simple things can make a difference, he added. The seniors being able to interact with someone can also make a positive impact.

“When you talk to them, it really makes their day,” said DiCarlo.

Knowing it takes “a tremendous amount of volunteers” to run the Meals on Wheels program, the mayor added that is one of Amherstburg’s best known features.

“Amherstburg is known for the volunteers we have,” he said.

Berthiaume said he “jumped at the chance” to get involved when he was asked. The police chief explained he has family connections with the Meals on Wheels program.

“My mother used to get Meals on Wheels when she lived at home and they did a fantastic job,” said Berthiaume. “When there is anything I can do to repay that, I’ll jump at the chance.”

Berthiaume also credited Meals on Wheels volunteers for making the local program what it is.

“The people who volunteer are wonderful people,” said Berthiaume. “It means a lot to the people (they help).”

Tome called it “a great partnership” and noted that, in the past, he has asked whether he can check the residents’ smoke alarms while he is there to make sure the seniors are safe.

Rosemary Smith was one of the seniors delivered to last Wednesday with the 90-year-old estimating it has been roughly one year since she started receiving meals.

Smith said “I certainly wouldn’t be eating as well” if she didn’t receive Meals on Wheels, adding she receives a meal five days per week.

“I find them very tasty,” she said, “and I enjoy them. I can get two meals out of one. It’s more than I can eat at one time, usually.”

For more information on Meals on Wheels or any of ACS’ programs, call 519-736-5471 or visit www.amherstburg-cs.com.

Amherstburg, LaSalle mayors to deliver meals to local seniors

 

Special to the RTT

The mayors of Amherstburg and LaSalle will be representing the spirit of generosity within their respective towns this month as they will volunteer their time next Wednesday to help local seniors.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo of Amherstburg and Mayor Ken Antaya of LaSalle will be working with the Amherstburg Community Services’ (ACS) Meals on Wheels program to personally deliver food to the doors of local seniors.

Both mayors agree that this program is a vital part of their communities and provides volunteers with a valuable and memorable experience.

“Keeping seniors out of extended care facilities and in their homes should be a goal for all societies,” DiCarlo said.  “It’s a privilege to be a part of delivering those meals and showing our seniors that we really care about their health and wellbeing.”

“I volunteered for the Meals on Wheels program before I was elected,” Antaya said.  “It’s so important and it’s about so much more than just healthy food, it’s about showing these people that they have their entire community behind them, and you can see that you just brightened their day the moment they answer the door.”

ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo said getting the mayors involved helps increase exposure to the program.

“This is a huge opportunity for Amherstburg Community Services to highlight just how much services like Meals on Wheels do for the community,” said DiBartolomeo. “It’s amazing to see such support from the towns we serve, and we genuinely hope that this inspires more people to come forward to support this vital initiative.”

Both mayors have volunteered their time as part of the March for Meals awareness campaign which promotes the local Meals on Wheels program.

DiCarlo will arrive at ACS’s Victoria St. S. office next Wednesday morning to pick up the meals that he will be delivering, while Antaya will meet with other ACS volunteers at St. Andrews Church on Laurier Dr. in LaSalle.

ACS encourages anyone who might be interested in volunteering for any of their services to contact their reception desk at 519-736-5471.