“My gift is going to be bigger than their annual budget. It’s going to blow them away.” – Naiman
Anyone that knew Alan Naiman would describe him as an extraordinarily thrifty person. He would do everything he could to save as much money as possible. Nobody had realized there was an underlying intention to his lifestyle…until he died last year (2018) of cancer at the age of 63. Almost all of his money, an 11 million dollar estate, was donated to children’s charities – organizations which saw to abandoned, impoverished, sick and disabled children.
“Saving money was sort of a game to him. He would brag about how he had a whole day out and didn’t have to spend a single cent.” – Shashi Karan, friend
All of his friends had just thought he was cheap. He went to such extremes to save money that he would do things like patched worn shoes with duct tape, drive old cars (even though he loved cars), shop for food when the store was closing to get end of the day deals and discounts, get his clothing from grocery stores, and chose cheap restaurants (like fast food joints) on the rare occasions that he ate out.
“Growing up as a kid with an older, disabled brother kind of colored the way he looked at things.” – Susan Madsen, close friend
It turns out Naiman was doing all this with a selfless mission in mind – to spend as little as possible in order to leave as much as possible to the children and families for whom he spent his career caring. For most of his life he had been a Washington state social worker. He had dedicated his life in every way possible to helping others, the less fortunate and vulnerable. He was primarily devoted to caring for youth.
“He made a career change into social services probably around the time he was fostering.” – Debra Johnson, Youth and Families spokeswoman for Washington State Department of Children
Before working at the state Department of Social and Health Services handling after-hours calls he had a career in banking. He never got married or had any children of his own. There were moments in his life where he worked as many as three jobs, through which he was able to save and invest even more. Along with his inheritance of a few million from his parents, he accumulated a small fortune to donate. Most of the charities he left money to were places he had worked with while in the Department of Social and Health Services.
He rarely spent any money on himself after seeing how unfair life could be for the most vulnerable children. He couldnt bear the thought of it. The list of organizations he gifted his life savings to include:
- Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center – they provide therapeutic horseback riding for people with disabilities.
- WestSide Baby – they distribute new and used items to low-income families.
His parents’ Catholic church.
- Disabled American Veterans.
- Pediatric Interim Care Center – a private organization in Washington state that cares for babies born to mothers who abused drugs and were therefore exposed to opiates, cocaine, and other drugs. They help exposed to opiates, cocaine, and other drugs. This organization received the most, 2.5 million dollars. The group has used it’s largest donation ever to pay off a mortgage as well as buy a new vehicle to transport the 200 babies it accepts from hospitals each year.
Drennen from Pediatric Interim Care Center said:
“We would never dream that something like this would happen to us. I wish very much that I could have met him. I would have loved to have had him see the babies he’s protecting.”
- Treehouse – a foster care organization where wards of the state can also come to choose toys and necessities for free. Naiman was a foster parent to children from this organization. This organization received 900,000 dollars. They have used the donation to expand their college and career counseling statewide.
Chief Development Officer of Treehouse Jessica Ross said:
“For someone to live their life the way Alan did — and then leave a legacy like this to so many organizations — is an inspiration. It’s really a gift to all of us to see that pure demonstration of philanthropy and love. The frugality that he lived through, that he committed to in his life, was for this. What a generous, loving man. We’re so thankful to be a part of this.”
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