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Building roads to recovery

Business offers courses in life empowerment

Left to right top row, Chris Robidas, Dennis Bousquet, and Nathaniel Hardt. Front row, Susan Bousquet, left and Donice Hardt. All are involved in Empower New England, a non-profit aiming to help people overcome life struggles. Ryan Grannan-Doll. (click for larger version)
November 14, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — Susan Bousquet knows what it is to of struggle at a young age.

At age 17, the Sturbridge native had an unplanned pregnancy and later gave birth to her child, but without a job or income to support herself. The baby's father supported them, but making ends meet was still tough, she said. About a year after she gave birth, Bousquet said she began attending church, which was the beginning of her life turning around.

"That made all the difference in the world," she said. "Ever since then, my life has been [about] building," said Bousquet, of Southbridge, now 54 years old.

Today, Bousquet, and several others are trying to help area residents overcome struggles by giving them a support system — Empower New England, a non-profit organization that teaches classes on several helpful topics. The organization operates out of 300 Main St., the former Scentimental's Flowers & Gifts shop.

"We are reaching out to the community," Bousquet said.

The group plans to hold its grand opening Thursday, Dec. 2 and offer classes, for a fee, in building self-esteem, battling depression, basic money management and other subjects, Bousquet said. Books and music along those themes will also be for sale. The group eventually plans to offer legal and medical advice, Bousquet said, once it has the proper staff.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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