Dan Smith had driven by the Johnson family’s rental home for months, admiring owner Richard Johnson’s diligent work on the home.
Then, on Aug. 11, Smith heard that Johnson was shot and killed by a gunman while working on the rental home. Smith learned that Richard was the husband of his children’s day-care teacher, Sally.
“I couldn’t believe the guy whose work I had been admiring got shot,” Smith said. “The world got small. It was an unpleasant coincidence.”
At the community meeting days after Johnson was shot, Smith quickly volunteered to help out Sally by finishing Richard’s work on the home.
Many followed suit, including Nancy Handy, Sally’s boss at Puyallup Play Care.
“I want to help Sally,” Handy said. “I see it as allowing the neighborhood to heal.”
Handy and Smith have rallied donations, supplies and volunteers to help button up the home up for winter.
“I teach construction at Clover Park (Technical College), so this is what I do,” Smith said. “Richard did really nice work on the home, so I had no problem raising my hand at the community meeting. It’s amazing to see how many people have gotten on board.”
Plumbers, contractors and others from different trades, ranging from skilled to novice, are coming together to honor Richard and help Sally.
“People just want to do whatever they can to help,” Handy said. “(His death) really rocked the neighborhood.”
Both Handy and Smith said that Sally is grateful that everybody is coming out to help.
“We’ve taken this house from what it looked like before and gave it a facelift to provide hope and healing,” Smith said.
Johnson had many friends in the neighborhood and throughout Puyallup that have been more than willing to help out with the project.
“They’re all only a phone call away,” Smith said. “They’re ready to help. It’s an amazing testament to a life well spent, but cut short.”
Handy and Smith are hosting a work party at the house, set for 8:30 a.m. Saturday (Sept. 12), at 518 14th Street S.W.
Smith will have sign-up sheets available at the house for those wanting to volunteer.
A GoFundMe account (http://www.gofundme.com/7k23gn2s) has also been set up to gain financial support to completing the work on the house.