Titus 3 House Gives Back!
DALLAS -- The painting party at the soon-to-be-opened indoor playground, The Jungle Gym, on Main Street on May 10 was more than a chance to spruce up before opening day later this month.
It was a chance for a group of women living at a transitional home in Dallas to give back to their community.
These women live at Titus 3, a group home established by Dallas residents P.J. Johnson and Dana Gilkison to help homeless women released into the community after serving jail or prison time get back on their feet.
The program was quietly started in September 2010.
Johnson, formerly of the Dallas Resource Center, said she started the nonprofit to help women on parole and probation adjust back into society as productive citizens.
"I knew that there were women out there that were homeless in Polk County and that just wasn't OK," she said.
Titus 3 is a faith-based program that requires participants to look for housing, work or attend school, and enroll in a county-sponsored counseling course to help them change destructive thought patterns and behavior.
While the home is similar to one the Dallas Ministerial Association attempted to establish last year serving homeless men released from prison, the two are unconnected.
In addition to working with Polk County Community Corrections, Polk County Mental Health, the Oregon Department of Human Services and Clear Paths, Titus 3 encourages the women to volunteer.
"We look for things for our girls (to do) to give back to the community," Johnson said. "They want to be able to take pride in the work they do in the community."
Titus 3 residents volunteer at the Polk County Bounty Market
with setup and during market hours each Thursday and serve meals at James2 Community Kitchen each Tuesday.
Titus 3 resident Billie King, 38, has been in the program since late November.
"I think we can do some good," she said of the volunteer projects, adding that working in the community is helping her. "I'm shy, so this gives me a chance to get out in the community and get to know people and give back."
Five women live in the home, with Johnson living onsite as a supervisor. Women can spend up to a year in the home.
"We feel that it takes a year to get that stability," Johnson said. "You can't turn your life around in three months."
Community Corrections Director Marty Silbernagel said the program rules and expectations are allowing participants to succeed.
"They have been making life changes, positive life changes," he said.
Silbernagel said 12 women have been through the program and, so far, they have been able to avoid re-offending.
"It's been open for about eight months and I haven't heard anything from neighbors who are upset," Silbernagel said. "I think it is going pretty well."
Johnson said working with the women in the house through her role as "house mom" has been inspiring.
"My life is so blessed by these girls," she said. "They keep me going. I'm retired, so I could be alone every night eating a TV dinner. Instead, I'm sitting down to dinner each night sharing laughter and love. Far better than a TV dinner alone."
Troi Nethery, 22, who just began the program last week, said she is excited about the opportunity and hopes to be able to enroll in school soon.
"I think it's amazing what P.J. does," she said. "She has hope for everybody and for all of us. It makes it easy to believe in yourself."