The Gratitude in Action thrift store on the south side of Billings may look like any other thrift store from the outside, but with one big difference, it’s run by an organization that runs humble living houses. Owned and operated.
Customers can find items for sale at any thrift store in town, but employees have something unique. They all live in modest homes, and their jobs have turned their lives around.
When employee Pete Guapo walked into Gratitude in Action three years ago, he got lost.
“I ended up here. Nobody had it. I didn’t have anything,” Guapo said.
And then he met Terry Todd.
“Basically, she said, ‘Don’t worry about what you’re going through. Let’s go,” said Guapo.
Terri and her husband, Richard Todd, run Ignatia’s House, a modest living home in Billings. That day, she took Guapo to her one of her four homes in town.
“I decided I liked it, and it was what I needed,” Guapo said. I didn’t feel inferior to anyone. ”
Guapo ended up staying for 13 months, living at home and working at a thrift store. She continues to do so today. Except now, he’s been sober for three years.
“It’s a really good opportunity for them to learn how to get hired again,” Todd said. “That was part of why we did it.”
Terry Todd worked closely with Jodie Hart and others developing Thrift Shop. It was a big project that took years to develop, but they said Guapo’s story was precisely why they wanted to connect the thrift store with the inhabitants of their humble living home.
“They have their lives back and are learning how to live soberly. To see that is all I wanted.”
Guapo credits much of his sobriety, thanks to both a thrift store and a house where he lives a sober life, but others in Montana have received more negative reviews. On Tuesday, a state legislative committee heard a bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Billings Barry Usher that would tighten regulations on sobriety homes.
Terry Todd and her husband are supporters of the proposed bill.
“They’re not trying to harm anyone, they’re just trying to make sure we can provide safe and stable housing,” Todd said.
Todd was in Helena for the hearing and said he heard from a number of opponents, including other owners of the somber home.
Whether or not the bill is passed, Todd says he will continue to help people like Guapo as often as possible.
“People can’t live a sober life on a winning streak,” Todd said.
Guapo said he was happy to see how much he and the store had changed in three years, and that both are now in much better shape.
“So, how the store is tidy reflects how I tidy, which is pretty cool,” Guapo said.