Alan Naiman was known for being very careful about how he spent his money. But even those closest to him had no knowledge of the fortune he quietly gathered and the last act he had planned.

Naiman died of cancer at age 63 last January. The man from the American state of Washington gave most of his money to groups that help the poor, sick, disabled and abandoned children.

He gave them $11 million.

The large amount of his fortune shocked the groups that received his gifts and even his best friends.

That is because Naiman had been known to repair his own shoes with duct tape. He had sought deals to buy food from grocery stores at closing time and taken friends out to lunch at low cost restaurants.

Naiman died unmarried and childless. He loved children but also was intensely private, his friends say. He saved, invested and worked extra jobs to gather money. He rarely spent the money on himself after seeing how unfair life could be for children who suffer the most.

His close friend Susan Madsen told the Associated Press, “Growing up as a kid with an older, disabled brother kind of colored the way he looked at things.”

A former banker, Naiman worked for the past 20 years at the state Department of Social and Health Services. He earned $67,234 a year and also took on side jobs. Sometimes, he worked as many as three at a time.

He saved and invested enough to make several millions of dollars. He also received millions more from his parents after they died, said Shashi Karan, a friend from his banking days.

After Naiman’s death, Karan recognized how little he knew of his longtime friend. “I don’t know if he was lonely. I think he was a loner,” Karan said.

He left $2.5 million to the Pediatric Interim Care Center in Washington. The center is a private organization that cares for babies born to mothers who abused drugs and children with drug dependency.

Naiman had called the center about a newborn baby while working for the state more than 10 years ago. Barbara Drennen, who established the 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.”

The center used the money to pay off its mortgage and buy a new vehicle to transport the children.

Naiman gave $900,000 to the Treehouse, a foster care organization.

Treehouse is using Naiman’s money to expand its college and career support services statewide. Jessica Ross, who works with Treehouse, commented that Naiman’s savings and cost cutting were for this purpose.

She called it a “pure demonstration of philanthropy and love.”

Exercise 1


Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.


fortune (n.) - a very large amount of money


abandoned (adj.) - left without needed protection or care


duct tape (n.) - a wide, sticky, and usually silver tape that is made of cloth and that is used especially to repair things


grocery store(s) (n.) -a store that sells food and household supplies


color(ed) (v.) - to change someone's ideas, opinion, or attitude in some way


loner (n.) - a person who is often alone or who likes to be alone


mortgage (n.) - legal agreement in which a person borrows money to buy property, such as a house, and pays back the money over a period of years


foster care (n.) - a situation in which for a period of time a child lives with and is cared for by people who are not the child's parents


transport (v.) - to carry (someone or something) from one place to another


philanthropy (n.) - the practice of giving money and time to help make life better for other people


Exercise 2


Answer these questions about the article.


  1. How much money Alan Naiman gave after his death?
  2. Who he gave it to?
  3. For what cause?
  4. Why did he do it?
  5. Where he worked?
  6. What kind of a man he was?



Exercise 3


Please give your opinion on the following statement and give your reasons behind it.


  • Is philanthropy good, or is it a waste of time, money and energy?



Exercise 4 


Have a discussion on following questions.

  1. Is giving away money to charity good?
  2. Have you ever done it?
  3. If you would be rich, would you help people like this?
  4. Do you have a side job with your regular job?
  5. Are you a spender of money, or a saver?


This lesson is based on a news article originally published by learningenglish.voanews.