DALLAS — The upstairs of Titus 3 House in Dallas was a scene of organized chaos on Saturday afternoon.
Polk County Sheriff Mark Garton and eight of his deputies crowded into the small hallway and two of the three bedrooms following the instructions of Titus house mom, P.J. Johnson.
The cause for the mass response from the sheriff’s office? A painting party.
In the middle of a touchup project at the women’s transitional home, Johnson was in need of painters to help get the project done so she could begin taking in more clients.
The crew included deputies Jonathon Jones, Quenton Ihne, David Shorter, Mike Smith, Matt Garrett, John Kincaid, Mark Widmere and Richard Bittick.
Johnson said through six years of operation, the three upstairs rooms temporarily housed 75 women working to put their lives back on track following serving time in prison.
The rooms were a little worse for the wear, she said.
Saturday’s mission was to provide a fresh coat of paint — and something perhaps even more valuable to women who occupy those rooms.
“The reason I want the sheriff’s (deputies) here is I want the ladies to realize that when a man puts on his uniform, he’s doing his job. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want to see you succeed,” Johnson said. “That’s what I want them to see, is Polk County Sheriff’s in here helping in a place where they can succeed.”
Deputies donning a different kind of workwear — those that aren’t hurt by a little paint — Saturday were happy to volunteer their time on behalf of Titus 3 clients and what they seek to achieve.
“Most people see us on a different scale, out there trying to police and catch people doing things wrong, always watching them. But we are also here to be out of uniform and help the community,” Jones said. “Most of us are doing this job because we want to help our communities, whether we are in uniform or not.”
He said it’s nice to be able to share an uplifting story with his children about what he did that day.
“Your kids ask you what you did today, ‘Did you bust the bad guys?’” Jones said. “Today, we get to say, ‘You know what we did? We helped some people who were in jail have a nice place to live and get back on their feet.’”
Johnson said Titus 3 clients, who are homeless after their release, can stay at the house for up to a year. The goal is to restore the lives and families of the women selected to join the home.
“We work with our community partners to get them housed up. We get them working or in school,” Johnson said. “I don’t want to say that we get them their children back because they get their kids back, but we give them the opportunity for their children to come here to Titus.”
Johnson said when she made the call to Garton to request help, she wasn’t expecting so many deputies to show up.
“I’m overwhelmed at the generosity of the sheriff’s department,” she said.
Johnson said Garton purchased more paint brushes for the job when her budget didn’t allow her to buy more.
Johnson hopes she isn’t the only person who notices how a group of Polk County’s deputies spend a Saturday off. She said her clients need to know that the community is supportive of them.
“We have to put their minds at ease, that this is a home, and you’re accepted. We want you here,” Johnson said.