84-Year-Old Twins End Up On Streets After Losing Home, Then Neighbors Discover Their True Identity
LifeAspire Staff 7/28/2017
There isn't enough gratitude for the brave men and women who choose to put their lives on the line in order to protect the freedoms of our country. Yet, for many veterans, the reality of life once they return home is every bit as grueling as the war fronts they once served on.
The story of 84-year-old twins, Gary and Clifford KoeKoek is one such sad reminder. Born in the Netherlands, their formative years took the brothers to Belgium Holland, Indonesia, and even Brazil, before finally settling in the United States. They lived through Nazi oppression in Europe and served their adoptive country in the Vietnam War.
Needless to say, the brothers have quite a few stories of the good and the bad that makes up this world! Gary and Clifford eventually made Burbank, California their home, sharing a beautiful house together in Fair Oaks. However, those hoping that this is how they spent their golden years will be highly mistaken.
After being victims of predatory lending like many other Americans, Gary and Clifford lost their house in Burbank and were forced to be homeless. Never having married and being childless, the brothers had no other family to turn to.
By the time their story came to light, they had spent nearly two years sleeping in their car and making do with what little they had. Aaron Hoerner, a distant friend, was the one to discover their plight and realized something needed to be done. Aaron started a GoFundMe page to raise money to place the brothers in a home and to also find an attorney who was willing to help them fight to get their house back.
What happened next was a complete surprise not just to Aaron, but also to Gary and Clifford.
In an act that Gary said makes him proud to be an American citizen, the brothers saw their story spread through local media and by word of mouth. Eventually, community organizations and strangers alike stepped up to help take care of the KoeKoek brothers in a way that was unimaginable, even by Aaron.
Nearly 2,500 people donated more than $101,000 on the GoFundMe page; additionally an attorney decided to work pro-bono and set up a trust to help manage these donations. Best of all, they also found a home. According to Ben Avey who runs a non profit to end homelessness:
"These two gentlemen spent a lot of time out on the street struggling before we were able to make that connection, but we're glad we were able to make it today."
Speaking about the stress that the brothers had undergone after losing their home, but before receiving all this help, Clifford said:
"I'd rather go back to the war and get shot at, than this crap."
Aaron's simple willingness to do something about the twin vets started an avalanche of help that went beyond anything that just one person could have done:
"This whole thing started with talking to people and caring about people. I just want people to continue doing that."
No one can tell this heartwarming story better than the brothers themselves!
FB Image Credit: Fox News