Building Hope at Gilly’s HouseSep 30, 2020 02:01PM ● By Grace Allen
Barbara Gillmeister and Bobby Paquette in front of the newly-painted Gilly’s House.
Bobby Paquette is a Gilly’s House success story. The sober home’s former resident has a new lease on life and is determined to give back to the place that set him on the path to success.
After a tough battle against addiction, Paquette is now a licensed contractor and house painter. But he hasn’t forgotten the place that helped him transform his life. When Gilly’s House recently needed a new paint job, Paquette stepped up and put his skills to work.
“They literally gave me a new chance at life,” said Paquette. “I’d do anything for them.”
In fact, Paquette has become somewhat of a go-to guy for the house. Whenever something needs to be done, house staff knows they can count on him to help, according to Maureen Cappuccino, the house administrator.
“He’s very proud of his work here and to be able to give back and help Gilly’s House, which helped him,” she said.
“I’m here more now than when I was a resident of the house,” confirmed Paquette, who is transparent about his struggles and visits Gilly’s several times per week to help with house projects or to mentor current house residents.
Gilly’s House was founded over two years ago by David and Barbara Gillmeister in memory of their son Steven. The home has helped change the lives of young men who have completed addiction treatment but now need a place to continue their recovery. Currently, nineteen men live in the house but there is room for twenty-one.
Barbara Gillmeister says the greater Wrentham community has rallied around the home and its goals.
“The support has been tremendous,” she said. Area families cook and deliver meals several times a week to Gilly’s House residents, freeing the men up for support meetings instead of preparing dinner. Several Eagle Scouts have worked on projects at the home.
Big projects have also had community support. A new patio was recently installed at the rear of the property, with a decorative, stamped compass at its center, pointing towards the North Star, the beacon of inspiration and hope. The project was a collaboration between Bobby Holmes of REH Acres Landscaping in Blackstone (excavation work), Tresca Brothers of Millis (cement donation), Craig Atteridge of C.A. Concrete in Norfolk (prep work and smoothing), and John Tumavicus of Northeast Decorative Concrete in Attlboro (color and stamp work).
The house paint for Paquette’s job at Gilly’s was donated by Aubuchon Hardware in Franklin, courtesy of Margaret Ranieri, who sold the building to the Gillmeisters. The structure, formerly known as the Sheldonville Nursing Home, was built in 1849. A virtual fundraiser—Restoration for Recovery—has been established to help defray costs of further improvements to the house, with the goal of raising $10,000.
Gillmeister points out that
it’s the positive energy of the home that draws the community, including former
residents like Paquette, to help out, more than anything.
“The camaraderie is so, so good here,” said Gillmeister. “We have a really solid group of guys. They really like being together. Everybody cooperates and it’s a very positive, dynamic place.”Paquette agreed.
“This is a comfortable place to be when you’re in recovery,” he said. “You can spread your wings here. I couldn’t have done this on my own. At the end of the day, you can come back here and everyone knows what you’re going through. And I still eat here all the time. It feels like my kitchen.”
Paquette says he has hired Gilly’s House residents who might have a skill he needs for a particular job. He has full confidence in their commitment to their work because he understands what they’ve gone through and how the experience has changed them.
“I don’t have to babysit them,” he explained. “That energy that used to be spent on drinking and drugs, people in recovery put it towards something else. If I can give these guys something to do they’re good at, I’m more than happy to do that.”
He added, “You can focus on recovery here. You can start over. It was tortuous what I was doing to the people around me before. But now I can actually help people myself. It’s very rewarding.”
For more information about Gilly’s House or to make a donation to the Restoration for Recovery campaign, visit https://gillyshouse.com. Contributions can also be mailed to Gilly’s House, P.O. Box 110, 1022 West St., Wrentham MA 02093, ATTN: Maureen Cappuccino, Restoration for Recovery.
Donors will be entered into a raffle to win prizes, including a trip to Martha’s Vineyard.