Last week's cozy and casual Susan B. Anthony event at the Reed Opera House netted $358 for Salem's Center for Hope & Safety. In a thank-you note to organizers, the center's Executive Director, Jayne Downing, said the fundraiser "allows us to continue providing support to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking." We enjoyed the "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves" vibe at the festivities that marked the suffragette's long-ago speaking appearance at the Reed, just as we've enjoyed the sun break in recent days. But, it being Oregon, we'll soon be singing "Here Comes the Rain Again."
A new kind of house marm... Don't you dare call PJ Johnson a schoolmarm.
She stays at home, teaches young women how to prepare meals, clean house, and even cares for their infant and older children when needed. But she is not prim or prudish. She herself was once homeless, and now lives in the Titus 3 house in Dallas, helping girls and young women recently released from the Polk County Jail or the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville get back onto their feet and improve their lives.
Johnson and Titus 3 Board Member Frank Puentes were at Holding Court to tell us about the white, wisteria-bathed house at SW Church and Oak streets in Dallas.
"We want to introduce ourselves. Too many people don't even know we exist," Johnson said. "We're not even well known in Dallas, and we want to change that."
The home, with a window-heavy sun porch, serves five or six women at a time. They can live in the home for up to a year, taking counsel from Johnson, who considers the effort to help them find work and education her ministry. She is not paid a dime for working with the home's residents, Puentes said, and she works social and traditional media furiously to gain what she needs to make ends meet.
Last week, for instance, the home's freezer was bare, so she put out a call on Facebook, and within 90 minutes, they had food aplenty. This has been routine for the five years the home has existed.
While Johnson considers her work faith based, she does not force the women to attend Bible study or church. She wants them to discover their blessings on their own.
"When we eat together four or five times per week, I always offering a blessing, but I make no one sing for their supper. Forcing it doesn't help anyone," Johnson said.
She also gets help from the Dallas Ministerial Association, and the pastors who belong to it.