Clifford and Gary Koekoek, 84-year-old twins who’ve survived fighting in the jungles of Vietnam and ended up sleeping in their car after a bank foreclosed on their California home, say they’re “grateful” for the outpouring of support they’ve received since their story went national.
Born in the Netherlands, Clifford and Gary grew up under Nazi rule before coming to the U.S., where the brothers worked in Hollywood and then served their new country at war. But the brothers faced a new challenge in October, when they ended up sleeping in their car after a bank foreclosed on their California home.
Since sharing their story with FOX 40 Sacramento, multiple homeless advocate organizations and Veterans Affairs reached out Friday to provide the twins with housing.
“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,” said Ben Avey with Sacramento Steps Forward, a nonprofit agency with the goal to end homelessness in the region.
In addition to the new outreach, more than 2,500 strangers have also donated money to the brothers through a GoFundMe page, which totaled more than $101,000 as of Sunday.
“It made me proud to be an American citizen, that there are so many good people,” Clifford told FOX 40. In a previous interview, the twin said the situation was “a lot of stress” while holding back tears, adding: “I’d rather go back to the war and get shot at, than this crap.”
Gary said the response to their situation has been “unbelievable.” “I feel grateful,” he said.
A local estate planning attorney has also volunteered to open a trust for the brothers to handle all the money that’s been donated.
“This was one of those cases where we decided we could do some good here,” Mark Drobny told FOX 40.
Aaron Hoerner, a friend of the family who launched the social media push and a GoFundMe account to try to help find the men permanent housing, hopes the outpouring of compassion continues.
“This whole thing started with talking to people and caring about people,” Hoerner told FOX 40. “I just want people to continue doing that.”