BILLINGS - Sober living homes are prominent in Billings. In fact, 37 different ones reside here — four of which are owned by the Todd family — who know firsthand how impactful these homes can be.
Richard Todd and his wife, Terri Todd, met at a meeting for addicts years ago. Each was dealing with their own struggles at the time, but today, they work together to try and help put people back on the right track by providing them with a home.
“What our goal is, is for people to have a place where they can put their recovery first,” Richard Todd said. “I did nine and a half years in federal prison because of the choices I made while doing drugs and drinking. If you believe that I know how you feel, you might be willing to do what I did."
Two of the homes are for men only, one is for women only, and the fourth is for families dealing with addiction.
But the Todds aren't alone. One of those homes in Billings, not owned by the Todds, made headlines when it erupted in flames Dec. 2, forcing all 13 residents out into the world on their own.
Aaron Bennick worked his way through Ignatia's House and now is one of its administrators. He said he feels empathy for the 13 residents who had their lives flipped upside down in an already trying time.
"I can’t imagine much being more difficult than that," Bennick said. "I pray for all of them that they find a place to go and can continue working on their recovery."
Bennick knows exactly how windy the road to recovery can be. He tried leaving the sober house once but ended up changing his mind.
“I came back to Richard, and I was like, ‘I know I haven’t done this program right up to this point, but if you would let me stay, I will give you what the guidelines ask for,'” Bennick said.
Now, as one of the administrators for the program, Bennick gets to be on the other side of these interactions.
“Now, I get to see people come full circle," Bennick said. "It takes a lot of work. It makes me super emotional. My life is so blessed now. I got all of my relationships with my family. I got married in October. All these things I have now are because of the work I put in and this program."
And while Bennick is a success story, that is not the case every time.
“I get to be on the front lines of miracles, but I also get to be on the front lines of tragedy," Todd said. "It’s just our job to create an environment where they have the best opportunity to succeed."