Southbridge Supports the South by Offering 3 Families a Novel Chance at a New Start

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New England manufacturing town is offering lodging and accommodation for a minimum of three months to three families dispossessed by Hurricane Katrina. More than just a fall foliage tour, Southbridge community members want to give families a chance to get back on their feet.

Southbridge, Mass. (PRWEB) August 31, 2005 – Southbridge, Massachusetts community members, seeing the devastation Hurricane Katrina has wrought throughout the Lowland South, are poised to act. Instead of holding a typical canned food drive or blanket collection, however, they're doing something much more novel and potentially much more profound.

Residents are opening the community to three families wishing to relocate to New England. Through a furious donation drive only now getting underway, the community is set to underwrite three months of lodging and offer or create jobs for individuals left homeless and without work. Moves can be temporary or permanent.

Valerie Pontbriand, owner of Four Eyes Joke Shop (, and Gabriel McCarthy, a Southbridge property owner(, are joining forces to get the ball rolling on the relocation option. McCarthy is offering a three-bedroom condominium with three-months rent covered by local donations. He will also canvass other Southbridge landlords to find two other suitable rental properties.

Pontbriand is creating a position in her joke shop to be filled by someone forced out of the South by Katrina. Southbridge is primarily a manufacturing town and there are jobs to be had at both Dexter-Russell (, a high-end knife maker, and at Hyde Manufacturing (, maker of a variety of tools and home improvement kits. McCarthy will also employ someone adept at property maintenance. Other employment opportunities will arise through continued canvassing of Southbridge merchants and public officials.

"We felt it would be better for someone dealing with the hurricane's aftermath to have a job than a blanket or a can of food," McCarthy said.

For Pontbriand, hurricane relief efforts supplanted her initial late-summer project, a national bike-helmet drive. A one-time resident of Southwest Texas, Pontbriand was caught with her children in fast-rising flash flooding in San Antonio. Her feeling of sudden dread was rekindled by footage of the destruction left in Hurricane Katrina's path and she knew she had to do something to help.

McCarthy cautions families to consider that life is far different in New England than it is in the Deep South and to think about whether such a drastic move would make them happy. However, he is certain the community can accommodate more than three families if there is enough interest from potential movers.

Southbridge is in south-central Massachusetts just north of Connecticut. It is convenient to Hartford, Springfield, Providence, Boston, and Worcester and offers a mix of urban, suburban, and rural.

For more information, or to inquire about moving, contact:

Valerie Pontbriand

Four Eyes Joke Shop

296 Main Street

Southbridge, MA 01550



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