The Persian Dinner has been a staple of Komak’s calendar for over 17 years. In conversation with Nasi Greenstein, one of the founders of Komak, we learned about the history and significance of the event.
Perhaps one of the most surprising facts about the Persian Dinner is its preceding the foundation of Komak. Nasi shares that back in 2004, a friend’s son was diagnosed with cancer. A series of events and effects of cancer built up to the idea of having a dinner party to provide support. Nasi says, “the next year, … we had another party. And when he was dying, he asked me, ‘Will you please continue this?’ and so we did.” Every year since the Persian Dinner was held.
For the first several years, the Dinner was more of an informal event, reminiscent of a potluck. “At first, everybody would bring a dish, and they were all Persian [laying the foundation for the type of cuisine prepared]. After that, little by little, our friends got involved, and we just kept it as a Persian Dinner.”
In the years following, Nasi and her husband realized that the financial help that could be provided to those suffering from cancer is capable of making a real difference in the lives of many. Just like that, Komak was officially founded in late 2006.
The Persian Dinner itself has persisted through the years. While in the beginning, everyone brought what they thought they were best at making, over time, certain dishes were eaten quicker and those who came every year got used to them. The standard Dinner menu formed, setting a high bar for quality that has been reached and more ever since.
Many of those who were there at the beginning no longer form as big a part of Komak, but the recipes, and, most importantly, the atmosphere and the shared passion for spreading good have remained the same.
“Last year we had around 120 to 130 guests, and it takes a lot of work to get it ready and make sure everything goes well.” Aside from the foreseeable need to allocate the resources, when planning an event such as the Persian Dinner, it is also important to take into account the impact it will have on everyone relying on Komak’s help.
Raising thousands of dollars on an annual basis, the Dinner is vital to Komak’s efforts. Over 90% of the money that is collected, be it through the purchase of tickets or through the silent auction, goes to Komak’s clients.
Nasi shares, “It is a very unique organization. Most of these organizations pay for medicine, some pay for the ride to the hospital, and so on. We pay the mortgage, help with car payments [and do everything in our power] to keep the clients’ quality of life to a point of comfort for them, where they can take care of the sickness comfortably.”
Over the years, both the number of attendees at the Persian Dinner and the number of Komak clients has grown, recently surpassing the state border and making sure that it is truly able to help everyone in a 50-mile radius of Portland, including Vancouver. In Nasi’s own words, “It works both ways: people know us more and patients know us more.” From Board members meeting those who have attended the Persian Dinner in the past in the grocery store to the incredible amount of support Komak is able to provide to those who need it, the Persian Dinner forms a community that encourages attendees to donate their time, money, and attention to Komak’s efforts.
The Persian Dinner is more than an event. It is an annual celebration of not only the roots of the organization, but also of everything that ties its supporters, a chance to meet new people, mingle, and enjoy an evening celebrating Komak’s efforts.
“Very seldom do little organizations live this long and we have done that, so I’m hoping we will continue to reach more people in need,” notes Nasi.
Click here to buy your tickets for this year’s event.