Young Engineers Honor Their Parents’ Legacy by Launching an Endowed Fund

Brothers Eric and Trevor New Transformed Personal Loss into a Commitment to Help Our Community

By Deirdre McKenna / September 13, 2023

Eric New of Hillsdale, N.Y., speaks with respect and gratitude when describing his parents, who instilled in him and his younger brother Trevor the values of a strong work ethic and compassion for others.

It is with this awareness and sense of purpose that Eric and Trevor decided to create the “W & W New Collection Fund,” an endowed* fund at Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, in their parents’ honor, to directly benefit our community. The brothers lost both their parents within a short span of time in 2019. Their father, William, passed away at age 53 from a heart attack. Their mother Wendy, severely depressed at the loss, took her own life five months later.

The word “Collection” in this fund’s name refers to the family’s collection of cars, their shared love of those cars and a devotion to maintaining and restoring them. Eric has fond memories of fixing cars and attending car shows with his father. The family collected classic Ford trucks, and Eric and Trevor have a special interest in Mustangs, owning a Shelby GT500 and a GT350. Trevor's GT350 holds extra sentimental value for him. When he entered high school, his father issued a challenge to him: Earn Valedictorian status as a Senior, and I will buy you this car. Though his father was able to see him graduate high school with Salutatorian status, he passed shortly after Trevor started college. Later, Trevor was able to buy himself this car.

Most car buffs find their own niche of interest. Eric enjoys learning from them as well as sharing his own expertise in turn. “Everyone has a story,” Eric says, and finds it is usually a strong family connection that starts a lifelong interest in cars. That labor of love grows, and over time creates cherished memories. The brothers plan to produce their own car show one day to support the fund and are reaching out to local experts to move that plan into action.

Wendy and William New

The brothers have found a way to transform their family’s personal loss into a commitment to ensure that their parents’ values live on and strengthen their community, especially at times when its members are most vulnerable. The New family has a strong connection to South Berkshire County, and this fund was established to provide annual support to two non-profit organizations in Great Barrington: Berkshire South Regional Community Center (BSRCC) and Volunteers in Medicine.

BSRCC offers a comprehensive array of programs to the community and financial assistance is available on a sliding scale. It is the children’s programs that are especially meaningful to Eric. BSRCC offers early literacy programs, a state-licensed preschool, and adventure camps. They help children while simultaneously supporting families in the region who may not be able to afford childcare.

Volunteers in Medicine provides healthcare services, including mental health services, to anyone in need, for those who are ineligible for health insurance and other services. Eric believes that everyone should be able to access mental health care services when they need it, without stigma.

Eric knew he and his brother wanted to honor his parents in a very special way, but was not sure how to get started. A community member recommended Eric get in touch with Berkshire Taconic for their charitable-giving guidance and expertise. That is when he connected with Kelly Sweet, Senior Community Engagement Officer. She worked with Eric to educate him on the various options.

They decided to establish what is known as a designated fund with Berkshire Taconic, which is endowed and designed to provide permanent support to the chosen organizations. A $10,000 minimum was needed to start. Undeterred, Eric raised this initial amount with a GoFundMe campaign, receiving donations from family and friends. The W & W New Collection fund has now earned almost half of the $25,000 needed to commence the endowment process.

Eric approaches life with a spirit of learning and enjoys taking on new challenges. He believes the fundraising work thus far is just “scratching the surface” of the fund’s potential, and is excited about the long-term impact the fund will have.

Eric credits his parents, “the perfect team,” for creating a home where he and Trevor always felt safe and loved. They impressed upon them the importance of simply doing the best that one can every single day. He is proud that both he and Trevor managed to stay in school and graduate on time. Eric went on to earn a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and Trevor will start his graduate degree program in Mechanical Engineering this year. Eric has also earned his MBA and is a volunteer firefighter.

*The key characteristic of an endowed fund is that the principal amount of $25,000 is invested, and a portion of the income generated from those investments is used to support a designated purpose or nonprofit organization. This allows the fund to have a lasting impact, as the original donation remains intact while the generated income provides a steady source of funding over time.

Make a gift to The W and W New Collection Fund

Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation is committed to strengthening communities by increasing community engagement, educational attainment and economic opportunity. If you would like to learn more about how you can contribute to our work, or establish your own fund, please contact Kelly Sweet.