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Jerry Quick: A Dangerous Place

Firm: Edward Jones

City: Taylorville, Ill.

Age: 56

Years as a rep: 34

Years with current firm: 34

Production: $820,000

AUM: $144 million

Product mix: 4% stocks; 3% bonds; 10% insurance; 20% mutual funds; 63% managed accounts

Designations, licenses: Series 7, 63, 66

There was a time when doing good in Juarez, Mexico was a simpler matter. Jerry Quick recalls heading down 12 years ago to the region — a manufacturing center bordering El Paso, Texas with more than 1 million people — to help build homes for the poor as part of his church group. Soon some doctors agreed to join the effort and help staff a free medical clinic in the area. In 2008, Quick set up a not-for-profit organization, Amigos en Cristo, to build and run a community center that provided daycare for children and educational programs for older Mexicans.

Unfortunately, drug cartels have since plunged the region into paroxysms of violence. Warring factions have killed several thousand people in recent years, earning Juarez the reputation as one of the most murder-prone areas of the world. Quick says volunteers, concerned about their safety, travel less often to Juarez; his group's last medical clinic was four years ago. But he still leads teams — albeit smaller — to the region four or five times a year to help at the community center; in March they built a second floor at a nearby orphanage.

Quick and his volunteers haven't personally encountered trouble, he says, but most Mexicans they work with either have seen a friend or family member killed, or they know someone who has. “It literally has touched everyone's life down there,” he says, “and that doesn't take into account the fact that many of the local businesses have closed their doors, and people have moved out of the area.”

Quick, whom his wife and teen-aged daughters sometimes accompany on his trips, says the volunteers observe new rules. No one rides in the back of pickup trucks; it's too visible for Americans who stand out in the community. Volunteers also tend to avoid circulating in the markets for the same reason. “We used to go downtown quite a bit, but less often now. At nighttime it really clears out; it's like a ghost town,” Quick says.

“A lot of organizations have pulled out of Juarez, Mexico. We decided to continue,” he says. “There is more to life out there than work and making money. Nothing's wrong with that, of course, but I get more joy from this.”

He's talking with some doctors and hopes to resume the medical clinics later this year.

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