Charlie Mills to speak at Unity House’s 2024 Annual Dinner

Auburn-based general contractor Charlie Mills has been selected as this year’s annual dinner guest speaker. He will speak at Unity House’s annual board and award dinner on Monday, April 29 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Auburn.

Born in Seneca Falls, general contractor and business owner Charlie Mills had it rough growing up.

As the son of parents with substance use disorder, Charlie didn’t expect to make it far in life. After bouncing between his hometown and Phoenix, New York, in elementary school, Charlie “had a bone to pick” with his situation.

Charlie began using marijuana at age 13. Two years later, his father suffered an accident and became a quadriplegic. This and other factors sent Charlie down a difficult path. By 17, he was addicted to crack and struggled with anger management.

“I didn’t know how to cope with these feelings,” Charlie said. “I didn’t know at the time that it was linked to trauma and abandonment issues. I later learned that depression had a name, and so many other things started to make sense.”

In 2012, at age 27, Charlie finally decided to get clean. He decided to “focus on what [he] knew.”

Charlie eventually landed at Unity House’s GRACE House recovery program for substance use disorder, spending four months there.

GRACE House requires that participants log volunteer hours spent in the community. Charlie quickly connected with Auburn Public Theater, where he started painting walls to aid in APT’s renovation efforts.

Charlie put the 12-step principles of addiction recovery into practice, striving to improve himself and his community.

After completing the GRACE House program, he transitioned to Unity House’s Supported Living Facility, which offers case management and support services in an apartment setting. Around the same time, Auburn Public Theater offered Charlie a paid position.

Now employed and starting to get back on his feet, Charlie worked heavily on increasing his independence. He was able to secure his own place, and began focusing on self-improvement even more.

“It was so important for me to find my circle again,” Charlie stated. “Not just people who wanted to help me, but those who had been through it and knew what it was like to hit rock bottom.”

After working at the theater for two years, he began his own business, Handy Skills by Mr. Mills, in 2015.

Charlie began connecting with more people in recovery, hiring those folks onto his contracting team. He would acquire a painting business, offer landscaping services, and continue to grow his enterprises.

Now, Mr. Mills Enterprises Inc. is well-established and in high demand in the city of Auburn and Cayuga County. Charlie and his fully insured, lead-certified team provide a variety of services such as interior and exterior painting, floor refinishing, deck builds, kitchen renovations, and room remodels.

The name of Charlie’s talk is “Tragedy to Triumph: My Road to Hope & Recovery”

Unity House’s annual dinner takes place at the Hilton Garden Inn, 74 State St., beginning at 5:30 p.m. April 29. The cost is $80 per person. Charlie’s story of addiction recovery will inspire you to make the most of your life, whatever its challenges, and to ask for help along the way.

Dinner tickets are available through April 24, 2024 by visiting

For more information, contact Director of Marketing and Development Kelly Buck at