BORO Program Sugar Shack: A Success


Miara Sasdi, Junior Co-Editor

The BORO Sugar Shack located at 15 East Main Street in Westborough has been open for over a month, and is already a success. The candy store was opened on behalf of the BORO (Bridging Over to Right Opportunities) Program mainly through the work and support of Sherrie Stevens, the Director of Student Services for Westborough Public Schools and  Superintendent Mrs. Amber Bock. The BORO Sugar Shack was opened to give the BORO program students (students 18-22 with special needs), opportunities to work at the shop in order to learn life skills.

Stevens and Bock created this project with the hopes and goal of making money to help defer program costs. Between tuition and transportation costs to other sites, it costs about $150,000 per year for one student. With the creation of the Sugar Shack, hopes are these costs will decrease.  

Stevens also shares, “We want to provide the students with paid opportunities, once they graduate from the BORO Program and also have them make life long connections. We want this is to a safe spot for them to thrive.”

Walking into the Sugar Shack, customers immediately feel a welcoming and colorful atmosphere added by a big lollipop structure in the middle of the store, designed by Westborough High School theater department students. On one side of the store, customers can purchase candy by the weight, in addition to a separate area for candy sold by piece. There is also Westborough apparel and accessories available for purchase. The open space also leaves room for some comfortable chairs.

Stevens hopes for it to be more than just a candy store.

She comments, “It is so nice to see students come in and hang out in the chairs. They can plug in their devices at the charging station, so they work on their homework. We want this to be a hub for students and make them feel welcome.”

The BORO Program Sugar Shack has received many donations from the community through their GoFundMe page, in addition to donors such as the Rotary Club and PENTA Communications Inc. Stevens hopes to honor all of the donors by creating a donor wall in an area in the BORO Program space.

Stevens adds, “

The community has been so incredibly generous.”

— Sherrie Stevens

Emily Stark, the Community Based Program Coordinator of The BORO Program explains “Students volunteer at numerous different vocational sites within their local community. Now they have an in-house opportunity to generalize the important employment skills they’ve been developing at those other sites and put them to the test in a new setting”

Stark plays an essential role in both the BORO Program and the operation of the Sugar Shack. Some of her roles include hiring and overseeing BORO support staff, coordinating individual student schedules, collaborating with adult service agencies who will support the students once they age out of the program, community and vocational outreach where she coordinates work and social opportunities for students, and finally she assists students and their families with their transition into adulthood.

Stark says, “

The students were thrilled to be a part of the creation of this unique learning-lab. They take great pride in what they do at The BORO Program and their work at The Sugar Shack is no exception.”

— Emily Stark

Students volunteer at numerous different vocational sites within their local community. Now they have an in-house opportunity to generalize the important employment skills they’ve been developing at those other sites and put them to the test in a new setting.”

In terms of growth for the Sugar Shack and BORO Program,  Stevens shares that they are in already started making custom candy orders, and continuing working to improve their website. They are also hoping to partner with the community and possibly run some events.

Stevens says, “We would like to also expand the BORO Program by developing the basement to create another space for the students. We are hoping to get a sponsor to help us with this project.”

The BORO program itself, right next door to the Sugar Shack is a great place for students of the program to grow and learn. The program currently has 9 students but expecting two more after the new year. Walking into the front room, appearing as a social room was designed to resemble a college dorm. In addition, there is another room creating a classroom setting and a relaxing room designed by Release Wellness Center in Westborough.

In addition to learning at the BORO program, students also go off-site to place such as helping at the Westborough Food Pantry, the Bistro where they help with various tasks and Cultivate Care Farm where they help to care for the animals. In the Sugar Shack, they can learn life skills such as interacting with customers, using the register, restocking, and more.

Stark remarks, “So far, they have been doing an excellent job. I can’t wait to see what new and exciting opportunities will develop in the store for them as the school year continues.”

In addition to BORO Program students working at the Sugar Shack, any person from the community is welcome to volunteer at the Sugar Shack. A number of Westborough High School students have already volunteered in the store.

The Sugar Shack is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays 11:00 am- 4:00 pm and

Friday 11:00am-7:00pm.

You can learn more about the BORO Sugar Shack on their website