At 84 years old, Clifford and Gary Cornelia Carol Sietze Koekoek have served in wars, watched people be led away to concentration camps, and lived around the world, but even in the worst of times, they have never lost their bond or sense of humor. Now, the octogenarians are facing one their toughest challenge yet—homelessness—but they refuse to let it get them down.
“I guarantee you within the next months, I will win the big lottery,” Gary quipped in an interview with WCNC. “I will win millions of dollars.”
The Vietnam War veterans were born in the Netherlands and raised in Belgium until World War II, when they moved to Holland so their father could serve in the army. Before the war was over, they moved to Indonesia, and subsequently spent time in Brazil. Today, the brothers live out of a car in Fair Oaks, California, after losing their home to the bank due to a predatory loan.
With no surviving family, Clifford and Gary rely on each other to get by—staunchly refusing to ask for help.
“I never will [beg],” Clifford said. “I’d rather die… that’s the way I’m feeling.”
But that hasn’t stopped their friend, Aaron Hoerner, from trying to get the brothers back on their feet.
“When you see people that are homeless, remember everyone has a story,” said Hoerner, who has set up a GoFundMe page for the twins.
The fundraiser has raised more than $80,000 in 48 hours, far surpassing its initial $25,000 goal. In an update on the page, Hoerner thanked the public for the overwhelming support and promised the money would go a long toward helping Clifford and Gary find a home to call their own.
“Thank you again for all of your donations and positive thoughts. In response to many questions being sent, Gary and Clifford are staying with a friend as we work with them to find a permanent place for them to live,” the post reads. “It is humbling to see how much money has been donated and because of this, the goal is to find a place for them to be stable for the next few years. We will continue posting updates as we go through this process and will post pictures once Gary and Clifford have a place to live.”
You can donate HERE.