Christmas reunion: Hawaii homeless man reunites with mainland fa - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Christmas reunion: Hawaii homeless man reunites with mainland family

Homeless man reunites with mainland family Homeless man reunites with mainland family

She's like a kid on Christmas morning, anxiously waiting for someone special to arrive.

Sarah Blanks hasn't seen her brother, Roger Thompson, in about twenty years.

"It means a lot," says Blanks, as she moves her head back and forth to see all the passengers exiting the secure area of the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.

Just after 5 a.m., Thompson, wearing a green aloha shirt and wheeling the only items he owns in a small, carry-on bag, makes his way through the hallway.  

He sees Blanks, smiles and walks toward her.  

The two embrace.

"How are you?" Thompson says.

"So good to see you," says Blanks.

The 64-year old Thompson spent almost 25 years in Hawaii.  He came here and worked in the film industry. It was a steady job until the recession hit. He got addicted to drugs and alcohol and soon became homeless.

Areas along the Ala Wai was home until he got an infection from the water last month.  A hospital referred him to the Institute for Human Services and he began sleeping at the shelter along Nimitz Highway.

The timing of his arrival was perfect, IHS had just started a new program to relocate Hawaii's homeless.  The program uses privately donated funds to help pay for one-way tickets to the mainland if the homeless person has family willing to take them. 

Thompson never told Blanks or his three other siblings that he was homeless. He was too embarrassed and didn't want to be a burden. When he did finally call her around Thanksgiving, she was so excited and willing to pay half of the one-way ticket. She later told IHS she wanted to pay for the entire cost.

"It's like the best Christmas present ever. It's very special, just special to be back," says Thompson.

"Are you going to be warm enough?" asks Blanks as she hands her brother a jacket and helps him put it on.

The temperature in North Texas was in the 30's when he arrived and Blanks knew the short-sleeved aloha shirt wasn't going to keep her brother warm.

Thompson will live with Blanks and her family for now.  He wants to start for looking a job immediately.  He's an Army veteran and hopes the VA can also help him in his search.

For now, the two will enjoy Christmas together, something that hasn't been done in decades.

"It's a comfort. It's a peace knowing that your family is together, it's a good feeling," says Blanks.

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