‘Angels of Mercy’ carry Tualatin man through COVID-19

Tim Gregos (L) and the man who came to his rescue, Eric Garcia, behind the counter at one of Garcia’s family owned and operated dry cleaners. Garcia and Tualatin’s Aladdin Dry Cleaners donated dry cleaning, pick-up and delivery to Gregos during the early days of the Coronavirus pandemic the Gregos was bed ridden and out of clean clothes. Holly Goodman/Tualatin Life
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Even in the hardest times, Tim Gregos’s faith in the divine has held steadfast, but it was the generosity of a local dry cleaner and the comfort of desperately needed clean clothes that restored his faith in humanity.

In the Spring of 2020, Gregos was among the earliest Oregonians diagnosed with COVID-19. 

And, the virus hit him hard. 

While Gregos was knocked flat, isolated in his apartment, and barely able to get out of bed, he was hit with the other pandemic that followed closely in COVID-19’s wake: human kindness.

“All my clothes were dirty, my sheets were soaked with sweat,” he said. “Everything was wet. I couldn’t get out of bed.”

Gregos, 67 at the time, was living alone. Days turned into more than a week of fever and sweats and coughing. His entire wardrobe and all of his bedding were wet and dirty, but no one he knew dared risk possible infection to do his laundry.

With so many uncertainties still circling about how the disease might be transmitted, Gregos’s family was afraid doing his wash could turn fatal. 

Enter Eric Garcia and Aladdin Dry Cleaners.

“Eric called me out of the blue,” Gregos said. “He told me: double bag everything in plastic garbage bags. Clothes, sheets, blankets. Put them outside the door and call us. When we get the call, we’ll have everything back to you in four hours.”

While Gregos slogged through the illness, word of his suffering made its way to his to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, where he is a longtime member, and the congregation sprang to action on his behalf.

When Aladdin caught wind of Gregos’s dilemma, the shop immediately stepped up.

“If a church member who’d never even met Tim can help him out and reach out on his behalf, why not help,” Garcia said. “This was during a time when not many people understood what COVID did or how it spread.”

Garcia is the second generation of his family to run the shop.

His mom, Patricia Moreno, bought Aladdin Dry Cleaners, 8495 Southwest Warm Springs St., in 2016 after more than a decade in the industry. 

The family has since opened two additional locations. Garcia now singly-handily runs their busy Style Cleaners shop in Wilsonville, while his sister and nephew run Hyland Cleaners in Beaverton.

Moreno helms Aladdin.

True to his promise, Garcia returned Gregos’s wardrobe, bedding, and towels to the apartment clean and freshly folded within hours, and threw in a few new items for good measure.

“(The clothes and linens) also got a good spot and oil treatment to remove stains,” Garcia said.

The company specializes in green dry cleaning, using non-toxic, organic solutions made to be gentler on garments and their wearers. Garcia used a biohazard cleaning solvent post-wash to sanitize the laundry before returning it, just in case. 

Gregos’s illness dragged on for more than a week, and his housebound road to recovery was paved by a handful of others who, like Garcia, stepped up to help a guy they didn’t know.

A long ago acquittance left groceries outside the door and coworkers from the Fred Meyers store where Gregos was employed at the time delivered multiple prescriptions as his doctors tried to beat the virus.

“I call them Angels of Mercy because that’s what they were to me,” he said. “Just by the grace of God they knew they had to connect, and they did. They connected with me.”

The experience bolstered his faith in humanity and inspired him to pay it forward.

“There are always people who step up throughout history,” he said.  “I have to do that now. It’s changed my outlook on life. I have to pay it forward. If we all did that? Ah, man. We’d be living in Paradise.”

Aladdin Dry Cleaners is located at 8495 Southwest Warm Springs St. in Tualatin.