Patricia Estopinal was fortunate enough to grow up in a middle-class suburban home in New Jersey. But after going to school and settling down in Sacramento, the sixth largest city in California, she became more aware of the problems of the urban poor, and she wanted to give back.
As a new advisor at E.F. Hutton in 1986, she organized her branch's first Thanksgiving Turkey Drive, and when thinking about which families would need the Thanksgiving meals the most, she immediately thought of Oak Park, one of Sacramento's rougher neighborhoods. “That's the greatest area of need,” she says. Every year since, she has convinced colleagues to donate canned foods, turkeys and money. With a group of volunteers, she goes to the grocery store and buys all the fixings needed for a full Thanksgiving meal — a pumpkin pie, yams, potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, and turkey. She then delivers the meals to local churches, schools and social services agencies, and they identify needy families in the area that can't afford a Thanksgiving dinner. The effort fed 15 families at the outset, and it's grown to 40 families a year today.
“She does all the work herself,” says Jim Dugan, branch manager in her office. “In my mind, that's going above and beyond.”
Estopinal also helped her daughter Jamie organize and coach a Special Olympics tennis team, starting in 2007. While her daughter went off to college last year, Estopinal is still coordinating and coaching the team herself this year.
With an empty nest, Estopinal wanted to make sure she stayed active, so she went through a 36-hour training program to be a court appointed special advocate, a volunteer mentor and legal advocate for a foster child. She spends an average of 20 hours a month with the child, building a one-on-one relationship and acting on her behalf in court.
Her passion for improving inner city conditions also extends to her role on the Board of Directors at Sol Aureus College Preparatory, a charter school, a position she's held for the past eight years. The goal of the school, which serves middle-school kids, is to encourage students to go to college, as the majority of them will be the first members of their family to go.
“She's so empathetic to the condition that our students and families are in,” says Alton Nelson, founder and principal of the school.See all of Registered Rep.'s Altruism Award Winners" class="old-inline-image">
Firm: Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
City: Folsom, Calif.
Years as a rep: 25
Years with current firm: 25
AUM: $160 million
Product mix: insurance 5%; bonds 3%; fee-based 92%
Specialty: Comprehensive wealth management
Designations, licenses: CIMA; Series 3, 7, 63, 65, insurance