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Bud’s Warehouse: Home Improvement Like You Have Never Seen Before
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Bud’s Warehouse is a home improvement thrift store in Denver, Colorado that provides a comprehensive job training program for individuals with barriers to employment.
Bud’s Warehouse: Home Improvement Like You Have Never Seen Before

Bud’s Warehouse on East 46 Street just past Dahlia Street in Denver is a friendly looking place. Painted white and red, it has a sign out front that says, “Denver’s Original Home Improvement Thrift Store.” On the side is a sign that says, “Bud. He can save you money!” He can also save people’s lives.

The “Bud’s” in Bud’s Warehouse is an acronym for Building Unity and Dignity through Service. Bud’s offers a job training program that helps individuals restore their health, rebuild connections with their families, and reintegrate into their communities. Bud’s mission is to support individuals who have experienced homelessness, addiction, and incarceration, in addition to getting you a good deal on plumbing fixtures.

At any given time, seven people are enrolled in the Bud’s Warehouse training program. Program participants receive intensive life skills training, which supports their recovery from mental illness or substance abuse or their transition from homelessness or incarceration. Practical daily hands-on technical training is also provided to teach vocational skills and prepare participants to reenter the workforce. The program has seen exciting results: In the current fiscal year, the “enter employment” success rate for program participants is seventy-five percent.

“We are looking for people who are a good fit for this kind of program,” said Josh Mahler, who runs the job training program for Bud’s Warehouse. “We get people looking for jobs here all the time, but employing the already employable is not what we do. We are looking for people with barriers to employment: people from prison and from the streets. We give them a safe, secure environment to improve their ability to successfully interact with employers, co-workers, and customers. Then we help them find a job.”

Typically, five of the program participants are referred by Providence Network, a charity run by the Open Door Ministry. Providence Network interviews and selects good candidates for Bud’s Warehouse, then provides them with housing during the training program. The other two spots are usually filled with referrals from case managers and parole and probation officers. All trainees start as temporary employees with a paycheck, even during the classroom life skills training, and work at the Second Chances Denver thrift store. The life skills training can take anywhere from six months to a year. A program timeline is reproduced below.

The home improvement thrift store is managed by Belay Industries, which operates several other programs in Colorado with a similar mission, including:
•    Good Neighbor Garage: Provides a mechanic job training program and donates reliable, low-cost transportation to low-income individuals living in metro Denver.
•    New Beginnings Custom Woodworks: Employs formerly incarcerated individuals into a cabinetry training program.
•    Purple Door Coffee: A coffee shop that provides employment and job training to youth and young adults transitioning out of homelessness.

The programs shared a common goal of providing practical training and employment opportunities to individuals who are frequently labeled as “unemployable,” all within a supporting and nurturing environment. “We actually like it when issues bubble up for our trainees. This is the environment for them to take an honest look at their issues and problems,” says Mahler. “That is what this program is all about, really. It doesn’t work with everybody. But when we see a change it is truly inspiring for everybody.”

Vocational Training and On Track Program Timeline

Vocational Training and On Track Program Timeline

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