PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Over the last 4 years, a life changing friendship formed between a business owner and a homeless man in Aloha.
Sally Fabre and Tom Jones shared their hopes and struggles over what ended up being the last 4 years of Jones’ life. Even though he’s gone, Fabre continues extending him dignity and respect by providing him with a funeral.
Looking out her Agape Community Insurance Agency office window, Fabre saw Jones walking by nearly every day until one day she felt compelled to learn more about him. An employee ran outside and brought Jones into the office.
Jones was surprised and told her no one had ever asked him about being homeless before.
“So he had shared with me that when the economy tanked he was a contractor, a laborer and there was no work and eventually he lost his apartment and he didn’t have work and he found himself homeless,” Fabre said.
He was living under a tree in Aloha and spent his days walking to keep warm and collecting cans for money. Fabre said kids would make fun of him because he wasn’t well dressed, but he was proud of himself and had a good work ethic.
Fabre learned Jones had burned bridges with his family but he a daughter and his dying wish was to find her. So she got to work on Facebook, finding and messaging his daughter mom and eventually got in touch with his 27-year-old daughter Ashley Hall.
Jones eventually got the courage to call Hall from Fabre’s office.
“It was pretty emotional,” Fabre said.
Jones took a bus to Idaho to visit Hall and his newborn grandson in December 2014.
“It meant that I had a dad, that I actually had somebody out there,” Hall said in a phone interview.
After his trip to Idaho, Jones returned to Aloha and stayed in a friend’s backyard.
“We were really close to getting him off the street this winter. That was our goal — to get him off the street and it wasn’t just me, it was a couple of other friends as well,” Fabre said.
“We were really close to getting him off the street this winter.”
Unfortunately, before that happened Jones passed away on November 10 at age 51.
Fabre was “humbled and grateful” to be part of Tom’s life in his last years and took it upon herself to pay for his funeral costs. She reached out with a GoFundMe account for donations to help cover the expenses because Hall was not able to pay.
“You know, I knew I could’t change him,” Fabre said. “But I just needed to love him and we were friends.”