She lived an incredibly modest life. Working for the same legal firm in Brooklyn, New York for 67 years, Sylvia Bloom leaves a $6.24 million donation to the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side. This was the largest single gift to the social service group in its 125-year history.

How does a secretary amass a fortune to leave in her will to students and their educational future? “She was a secretary in an era when they ran their boss’s lives, including their personal investment,” says 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.”

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, who is the executor of Ms. Bloom’s estate – reports the New York Times.

“I realized she had millions and she had never mentioned a word,” recalled Ms. Lockshin. “I don’t think she thought it was anybody’s business but her own.”

Sylvia Bloom took the subway to work, and there were times she would walk over the bridge and take the city bus home. Even the people closest to her had no idea that Sylvia had managed to save a small fortune.


“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,” said her niece, Jane Lockshin.

The Next Leap Forward

What I find most unique about this story is the capacity of concern, and vision of this incredible woman. It is refreshing, and it is most unique. In a me-me society of people that can’t see beyond their own needs and wants, here is a woman who passionately cares about young people and their future. There are countless lessons to take from her life and her passion for others. Sylvia Bloom was observant. She was alert to the wise people around her who had the knowledge and experience to make such investments. It was in that spirit that allowed her to capitalize on that experience and make it count in her own life.


1 – KNOWLEDGE IS POWERFUL – Even more powerful is to tap into the knowledge of others

2 – PERSEVERANCE IS KEY – The commitment to execute your vision no matter the hardships

3 – NEXT GENERATION – Imagine a world where each of us prioritized our contribution to society