BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Harcourts the Garner Group Real Estate has partnered with area restaurants and the Discovery West Builders Guild to raise funds for the Josh and Jack Eckstein Memorial Trade Scholarship Fund, named for two brothers killed in a 2019 crash on the Powell Butte Highway. And word came Friday that they surpassed their fundraising goal.
Their parents, Phyllis and Scott Eckstein, recently expressed great appreciation for the fundraising effort, with Phyllis telling us: “I felt like all that they've done for our scholarship, it's just felt like this big, huge warm hug from them, and just community. And I said, 'You know, we're just a mom and a dad.' And their response was, 'We're just moms and dads.'”
Here's the story of the brothers, their family and the scholarship fund, as written by Jennifer Hobson Hinsley of Harcourts The Garner Group Real Estate:
Early in the morning on March 29, 2019, brothers Jake and Josh Eckstein, then 21 and 19 years old, respectively, were driving to their trade jobs on the pipe crew with Taylor NW at Facebook’s Prineville Data Center when they hit a patch of black ice on Powell Butte Highway. The young men, known by their co-workers as dedicated and hard-working, were both killed when their truck slid off the road, striking a juniper tree.
The tragedy sent shock waves through the company and community. Taylor NW stopped work on all jobs that day as the company reeled from the loss.
“It’s the kind of event that as a parent you believe will happen to someone else,” said their father, Scott Eckstein.
The boys’ colleagues began a hat pass that immediately yielded $6,000, which was matched by their parents, Scott and Phyllis Eckstein. In time, this along with other donations would become the fund now known as the Jake & Josh Eckstein Memorial Trade Scholarship Fund, which is managed by the Oregon Community Foundation. The fund supports Central Oregon graduates of high schools in Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook counties seeking training in all the construction, mechanical and technical trades (CTE).
This month, Harcourts The Garner Group, a real estate agency based in Bend and Redmond, has set a goal of raising a total $20,000 in partnership with local restaurants and the Discovery West Builders’ Guild for the scholarship fund. Proceeds from the following restaurants will be donated to the fund: Mountain Burger December 6; Washington December 10; Drake December 11; Bend Pizza Kitchen December 12.
To support this effort, Harcourts The Garner Group is also seeking in-kind donations from the community this December. Donors can bring checks payable to the Oregon Community Foundation, attention Jake & Josh Eckstein Memorial Trade Scholarship Fund to the NWX or downtown Redmond offices, or donate directly online here. All donations are tax deductible.
“We understand that not every young person is interested in attending college and that trade school is a fantastic option that leads to well-paid work that can support a great lifestyle here in Central Oregon,” said Erica Davis, co-owner of Harcourts The Garner Group. “Honoring Jake & Josh Eckstein and their parents, Scott and Phyllis while acknowledging the hardworking tradespeople in our community is something we are very passionate about, and very honored to do this holiday season.”
Builders in the area are often looking for subcontractors. Jason Neel of JD Neel Construction knows this all too well.
“As a general contractor in Central Oregon since 1991, it has become apparent that there is an overwhelming need for hardworking young men and women who are willing to learn a hands-on trade. With dedication, the opportunities are endless,” said Neel. “I have known several young people enter into apprenticeship programs and go on to own and run their own businesses. I feel I can speak for all of the Guild Builders when I say we are very excited to be a part of raising money for the Jake & Josh Eckstein Memorial Trade Scholarship Fund this year.”
Trade schools offer a path to lucrative careers for those who may not find the traditional college path a desirable one, something the Eckstein boys quickly learned once they graduated from Summit High School in Bend.
“When Jake passed at age 21, he was already making $70,000 and receiving benefits,” said Phyllis. “Trade jobs are incredibly rewarding, respectable jobs that are a wonderful way to earn a living, and we were so proud of the path that both the boys were on. We still have people come up to us to say what an incredible work ethic they both had. Through the fund, we want to offer more opportunities for young people in our community who see the value of these jobs and aren’t focused on the traditional college path.”
“We want their names to live on. They were great representatives of the community and this fund is perpetual, so long after we are gone, it will continue. We don’t have our boys anymore, so this is our legacy,” said Scott.
For more information about who qualifies for this scholarship and how to apply, visit the Oregon Community Foundation’s website: www.oregonstudentaid.gov/scholarships or call The Scholarships Team (503) 227-6846 or email email@example.com