In its 125-year history, the Henry Street Settlement, a social service group on the Lower East Side of New York City, has never seen a single gift larger than what a 96-year-old legal secretary from Brooklyn recently donated — $6.24 million.
The close friends and relatives of Sylvia Bloom had no idea that she had amassed secret fortunes from her 67 years of service.
She’d worked for the same law firm before retiring at the ripe old age of 96. She died shortly after in 2016.
“She was a secretary in an era when they ran their boss’s lives, including their personal investments,” said 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.”
Nobody knew that the smart legal secretary lady had carefully cultivated more than $9 million among three brokerage houses and 11 banks.
It was only revealed when Sylvia died. It was an “oh my God moment,” said Ms. Lockshin, the executor of Ms. Bloom’s estate.
“I realized she had millions and she had never mentioned a word. I don’t think she thought it was anybody’s business but her own.”
Final Wish of the Legal Secretary
Bloom left some money for relatives and friends but directed in her will that most of her fortune must go toward the scholarships of Ms. Lockshin’s choice for needy students.
That’s when she called the group’s executive director, David Garza, and asked him if he was sitting down. “We were all astonished, just blown away,” recalled Mr. Garza.
He also said that the money donated will go to the settlement’s Expanded Horizons College Success Program, which helps needy students prepare for college and until completion.
The gift was made in February last year.
What an amazing and generous woman. She worked all her life to earn that money and only to give it away.
She did it so students could have access to a good education. Rest in peace, Bloom.