Wedding bells ring for Jennifer Fair and Al Lamaye
The Mission Mahalo founder plans to keep non-propfit in local area
After Mission Mahalo volunteers got used to the idea that the non-profit organization's founder and president, Jennifer Fair, was moving from King City to Hawaii, she surprised everyone with an announcement that she is staying in the area and getting married.
Mission Mahalo has shipped nearly 1,000 boxes of hygiene products, supplies and treats to troops overseas since its inception in 2011, and Jennifer, who moved to King City in 2010 to be the caretaker for her dad and stepmom, Tom and Leanna, worked at the Tigard Towne Square Rite Aid when she wasn't running Mission Mahalo.
Little did she know that Al Lamaye, a regular customer at Rite Aid, wanted to ask her out on a date but didn't even know if she was available.
"I didn't know her last name," said Al, who is a Navy Air veteran. "I knew she was involved with sending things to the troops."
In early January 2013, he found Mission Mahalo online and some Regal Courier stories about the non-profit, but a photo with one of the stories mistakenly identified longtime volunteer Martha Granda, who is decades older than the Mission Mahalo president, as Jennifer.
Al eventually learned her last name and friended her on Mission Mahalo's Facebook page, and Jennifer friended him on his page.
Meanwhile, Al kept finding excuses to come to Rite Aid to make purchases, ending up with far more products than he needed.
"My garage is full of bags of stuff," he said.
At one point, Jennifer, who is an expert couponer, filling Mission Mahalo boxes for pennies on the dollar, helped Al use coupons to purchase 12 containers of Tide. A friend of his called him a snail for being so slow to ask Jennifer out.
As their contacts at the store increased in January and February, Al wrote on his Facebook page, "I think I'm in love but I don't know if they know it yet," so Jennifer thought he had a girlfriend and wondered who it was.
On Feb. 23, Jennifer announced online that she was moving to Hawaii in April, and Al wrote on his Facebook page, "My timing sucks. I found the girl of my dreams, and she's moving to the South Pole."
Jennifer read his comments and said, "All the light bulbs went off. I couldn't believe he had been talking about me online for two months - we're trying to decide who's slower."
Their first official date was Feb. 27 or 28 - they can't remember - when they went to Panda Express when Jennifer had a 30-minute break from Rite Aid.
Her co-workers, who were following the budding romance with great interest, told her "to take as long as you want."
"I was 25 minutes late getting back to work - it's the first time I've ever clocked in late," she said.
The Fair family had already announced they were holding a giant garage sale the first weekend in March, so Jennifer and Al's second date was at the garage sale when he "met the parents."
From then on, Al and Jennifer saw each other every day, including March 3, when she went to his Sherwood home and met his dogs, Lexi and Roscoe.
However, plans were still moving ahead for the Fairs' departure for Hawaii, and Al's friends were telling him, "Tell her that you love her."
He decided that "if it meant proposing to her to keep her here, I would."
Tom, Jennifer's dad, had already told Al that "it is OK if you want to marry her," and Jennifer told her dad the week before the proposal, "I sure hope you like this guy because I'm pretty sure I'm going to marry him'"
The proposal was spontaneous, in front of a Beaverton locksmith shop but included a "ring" - a key ring with Al's house and mailbox keys dangling from it. "I laughed so hard," Jennifer said. "I said, 'You're going to have to tell our kids that story.'"
After their March 22 wedding at the Washington County Courthouse in Hillsboro, the couple are planning a honeymoon in Hawaii in May and a second wedding ceremony and reception in the King City area, hopefully in July.
And Jennifer hopes that by next year, "we'll have some Mission Mahalo babies."