Social Worker With Duct-Taped Shoes Leaves Surprise Fortune To Children's Charities

December 29, 2018

A social worker died of cancer this year at age 63, leaving most of a surprising $11 million estate to children's charities that help the poor, sick, disabled and abandoned.

man donates 11 million to help children
Shashi Karan / Credit: AP

Even those closest to Alan Naiman had no inkling of the fortune that he quietly amassed. That's because the Washington state social worker patched up his shoes with duct tape and took his best friends out to lunch at fast food restaurants.

Naiman worked for the Department of Social and Health Services earning $67,234 a year. But he also took on side gigs, sometimes working as many as three jobs at a time. He saved and invested enough to make several millions of dollars and also inherited millions more from his parents.

Friends of Naiman believe a lifelong devotion to his older brother who had a developmental disability influenced his decision to leave his estate to children's charities.

"Growing up as a kid with an older, disabled brother kind of colored the way he looked at things," close friend Susan Madsen said.


Naiman left $2.5 million to the Pediatric Interim Care Center, an organization that cares for babies born to mothers who abused drugs and helps the children wean off their dependence.

He gave $900,000 to the Treehouse foster care organization, telling them that he was a foster parent years ago and had brought kids in his care to the group's popular warehouse, where wards of the state can choose toys and necessities for free.

Many of the organizations benefiting from Naiman's gifts said they didn't know him.

"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," Pediatric Interim Care Center founder Barbara Drennen said.

"The frugality that he lived through, that he committed to in his life, was for this," added Jessica Ross, Treehouse's chief development officer. "It's really a gift to all of us to see that pure demonstration of philanthropy and love."

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