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Isaac Simon: A Driving Force

Firm: UBS Financial Services

City: New York

Age: 40

Years as a rep: 16

Years with current firm: 11

AUM: $160 million

Product mix: Stocks, 32.5%; insurance, 15%; bonds, 32.5%; managed accounts, 20%

Specialty: Transactional business

Designations, licenses: Series 4, 7, 24, 65, 66; Insurance license

Almost everyone can remember where they were on 9/11. Isaac Simon? He was standing 100 yards from the World Trade Center when the first plane hit, just outside UBS's old downtown offices. He considered the tragic events of that day a wake-up call, a reminder that life is short, and he was determined to begin giving back. It was around that time that Simon started volunteering in his community, and he's been doing it ever since.

Simon started by doing one-time projects here and there for New York Cares, a New York-based organization that posts 500 different volunteer projects a month online. Through them, he found another group called Coalition for the Homeless, which provides advocacy, youth services, housing, food, crisis intervention, voice mail and job training for homeless people in New York. The Coalition delivers hot meals to about 100 to 150 homeless people in the city every night via a van that drives around the city from neighborhood to neighborhood. Three years ago, Simon called up the Coalition offering his help; they asked him to drive the van on Tuesday nights. Since then, he's been driving the van about 45 to 50 Tuesdays a year.

Simon soon realized he wanted to provide more than food. A couple years ago, he was out delivering food during wintertime. “I said, ‘This is crazy. I'm freezing right now and I've got a hat and gloves on, and these people are sitting there with holes in their shoes and no hats.’”

He started to take his own money and to collect donations from others to purchase hats and gloves to hand out on Tuesdays.

Once a month, Simon also volunteers with the Metropolitan Council of Jewish Poverty, conducting mock interviews with and helping New York residents from all over the world get a job. About half are Jewish. Most are lower-middle-class and don't speak much English, so they need help with their interviewing and resume-writing skills.

About five years ago, Simon also started volunteering with Dorot, a non-profit that connects volunteers with seniors that have no living family members and need help. He made a one-year commitment to visit Ellie Puleo, an elderly woman, once a week. It ended up turning into a five-year commitment, one so deep that Simon was even at the hospital the night she died in May 2011.

During that half-decade, Simon acted as an advocate for Puleo, driving her to doctors' appointments, getting her an emergency alert button, and even covering the cost of an ambulance. “It really became like I was the only person in the world that she had.”

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