Alan Naiman, a 63 year-old social worker from Washington state, passed away from cancer last year; leaving his $11 million estate to local children’s charities
Those who knew Alan Naiman describe him in glowing terms. A well-respected and much-loved social worker from Seattle, his colleagues from Washington state children’s services all speak fondly of him and praise his commitment to vulnerable children.
His death from cancer, in January 2018, was a big loss to the team and the community he served.
When he was diagnosed with cancer, he told his colleague Mary Monahan that he would be leaving his estate to charity when he passed away. For Mary, this was typical of the man Alan was and a testament to the good character that had brought such help to the children and families they served.
His commitment to leave behind some good in the world after his passing did not surprise Alan’s friends and they were not surprised by his generosity.
The amount of money he left in his will to local children’s charities was a surprise.
It was $11 million dollars (£8.7 million pounds).
“I think everyone was shocked, I mean really shocked that he had so much money to give away,” said Mary Monahan when speaking to the BBC
“People will be surprised at the amount,” she recalls Alan telling her at the time he first spoke about his plans. Mary looks back at Alan’s comments at the time and says that “Yeah, people were – I’m sure – very surprised”.
A portion of Alan’s wealth came from his parents, but the majority is believed to have come from his background in banking, personal investments and frugal living. His friends told journalists how he would buy his clothes at Costco, love to use discount coupons, used to tape his shoes up to make them last longer and go on low-cost road trips for his holidays.
Despite his inheritance and lucrative job in banking, Alan left behind the high-flying city lifestyle to become a social worker in his early 30s and it was a lifestyle he loved.
In death, just as in life, his legacy will be felt by children throughout Washington state thanks to the donations he has made.
The local organisations Alan left his money to were Childhaven, Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center, Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington, Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, WestSide Baby and Treehouse.
The chief development officer for Treehouse, an organisation that helps children in foster care graduate from high school, spoke to the BBC about Alan’s legacy. Ms. Jessica Ross explained how the first time she was aware of Alan’s generosity was a few months before he passed away, when he donated $5,000 to the service.
“That’s a big deal for us, $5000, we were surprised by that,” she said, “the average gift to the organisation is a couple hundred dollars”.
When the organisation found out that Alan had left them $900,000 in his will, they were truly “shocked”.
“Our organisation was just overcome with that kindness and that love. I don’t want the number to outweigh the experience of being a part of this, that was really about the way he wanted to leave the world.”