Southbridge Relief Effort Mimicked Nationwide

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Southbridge Supports the South is gaining momentum New England community invites three hurricane-displaced working families to relocated. Now other communities across the country are asking how they can start their own practical relief efforts.

Southbridge, Mass. (PRWEB) Sept. 2, 2005 – A relief effort spurred by Southbridge, Mass. citizens is gathering steam in their community and spawning similar community efforts across the country.

Valerie Pontbriand, owner of Four Eyes Joke Shop (, and Gabriel McCarthy, local Southbridge developer (, are leading an effort to give at least three working families displaced by Hurricane Katrina everything they need to start again in Southbridge. That includes a home, a car, a job, groceries, and basic utilities. All donations are to run for at least three months. Families may decide to make Southbridge a temporary stop on their road to recovery or may decide to stay in Southbridge permanently.

Right now, religious officials with ties to the devastated Southeast are working to identify suitable families for relocation. Because Southbridge was initially settled by French-Canadians, there are friend and family ties between Southbridge and Louisiana. To avoid excessive culture shock, the Southbridge volunteers are hoping to host families with ties, by either blood or friendship, to the New England Community.

Part of the reason Southbridge is reaching out is their collective memory of severe floods in 1955, during which the breach of two dams caused twin walls of water to converge on their town. As the Red Cross and other relief agencies helped Southbridge in the aftermath of their flood, so citizens of Southbridge wish to extend themselves to help the South.

Pontbriand, McCarthy and other generous locals were featured on local and national CBS broadcasts on Thursday night and are finding their volunteer drive is catching imaginations of other towns across the nation.

"I've had calls from as far away as Indiana and Michigan asking how they can get similar drives started in their own communities," Pontbriand said.

She said she's hopeful that the good news generated from community-based efforts to provide practical, material relief to hurricane victims will neutralize and overcome the bad news emanating from the Southeast in recent days.

"American Optical in Southbridge perfected ways to mass produce eyeglasses, creating vision for the United States and the world," Pontbriand said. "In the same way now our collective effort to provide a new start for hurricane victims is helping create a vision for the nation."

To learn more about the Southbridge hurricane relief effort, contact:

Valerie Pontbriand

Four Eyes Joke Shop

296 Main Street

Southbridge, MA 01550



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Valerie Pontbriand