Written by Ed Masley for the Arizona Republic
It was 2017 when two brothers started charming their way into all-ages shows at the Trunk Space, a nonprofit avant-garde arts venue housed in Grace Lutheran Church on North Third Street in Phoenix.
"They were 10 and 11 at the time," recalled Steph Carrico, who cofounded the Trunk Space in 2004. "They just kind of showed up and were asking a bunch of questions. We were like 'Where did these kids come from?'"
The boys managed to work out a deal where if they helped take out the trash or clean up afterward, they were allowed to watch the bands.
"So then they started showing up almost every night and we learned that they were homeless," Carrico recalled. "They were living with their mother, staying nearby. And it was something for them to do in the evenings."
The kids' bad situation got much worse
The Trunk Space has been temporarily closed since March because of COVID-19, but the boys stopped coming around before that.
When Carrico heard in late June that their mother had died, she couldn't stop thinking about them, wondering if they were safe.
"I was able to get a hold of someone who was in contact with them," she said, "and found out they were living in a motel with their guardian, who's 21."
After reaching out to other members of the Trunk Space board, Carrico started a GoFundMe page in late July, hoping to raise at least $500.
As she wrote in that initial post, "At the least, we'd like to be able to help them buy some new clothes, though it would be pretty fantastic if we were able to raise enough money to help them get established in more permanent housing."
They raised $1,000 in the first half hour.
"So I bumped the amount up to $5,000 and hit that in two days," she says.
By the time she shut off new donations, Carrico's GoFundMe page had raised $6,587, allowing the boys and the cousin who took them in, to get established in a new apartment.