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Posts Tagged ‘Henry Street Settlement’

Photo: Bloom Family
Thrifty Sylvia Bloom, seen here with her husband, was a secretary for the same law firm for 67 years. She left $6.24 million to Henry Street Settlement’s Expanded Horizons College Success Program, which helps disadvantaged students prepare for and complete college.

This inspiring story doesn’t need any comment from me, but I’d love to know what you think about it.

Corey Kilgannon writes at the New York Times, “Even by the dizzying standards of New York City philanthropy, a recent $6.24 million donation to the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side was a whopper — the largest single gift from an individual to the social service group in its 125-year history.

“It was not donated by some billionaire benefactor, but by a frugal legal secretary from Brooklyn who toiled for the same law firm for 67 years until she retired at age 96 and died not long afterward in 2016.

“Her name was Sylvia Bloom and even her closest friends and relatives had no idea she had amassed a fortune over the decades. She did this by shrewdly observing the investments made by the lawyers she served.

“ ‘She was a secretary in an era when they ran their boss’s lives, including their personal investments,’ recalled her niece Jane Lockshin. ‘So when the boss would buy a stock, she would make the purchase for him, and then buy the same stock for herself, but in a smaller amount because she was on a secretary’s salary.’

“Since Ms. Bloom never talked about this, even to those closest to her, the fact that she had carefully cultivated more than $9 million among three brokerage houses and 11 banks, emerged only at the end of her life — ‘an oh my God moment,’ said Ms. Lockshin, the executor of Ms. Bloom’s estate. …

“Ms. Bloom’s will allowed for some money to be left to relatives and friends, but directed that the bulk of the fortune go toward scholarships of Ms. Lockshin’s choice for needy students.

“Ms. Lockshin, the longstanding treasurer of the settlement’s board, called the group’s executive director, David Garza, and asked him if he was sitting down.

“ ‘We were all agape, just blown away,’ recalled Mr. Garza. …

“Ms. Bloom, who never had children of her own, was born to eastern European immigrants and grew up in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. She attended public schools, including Hunter College, where she completed her degree at night while working days to make ends meet. …

“Ms. Bloom’s husband, Raymond Margolies, who died in 2002, was a city firefighter who retired and became a city schoolteacher with a pharmacist career on the side, relatives said. …

“Nearly all the money was in Ms. Bloom’s name alone, Ms. Lockshin said, adding that it was ‘very possible’ that even Mr. Margolies did not know the size of his wife’s fortune. …

“Ms. Bloom was known for always taking the subway to work, even on the morning of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the World Trade Center, not far from the firm’s offices.

“That day, Ms. Bloom, at 84, fled north and took refuge in a building before walking over the Brooklyn Bridge and taking a city bus — not a cab — home. …

” ‘She never talked money and she didn’t live the high life,’ [Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton human resources executive  Paul Hyams] said. ‘She wasn’t showy and didn’t want to call attention to herself. … She was a child of the Depression and she knew what it was like not to have money. She had great empathy for other people who were needy and wanted everybody to have a fair shake.’ ”

More at the New York Times, here.

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