Who We Are

Mission & History

Who We Are

Komak is a Portland-based 501(c) 3 that brings immediate and interim financial solutions to working age individuals who are going through cancer treatment, who live within a 50 mile radius of Portland.

Our leadership team serves as volunteers, so 92% of our funding can go straight to the people. Our leadership comes from a broad spectrum: some are cancer survivors, some are medical staff, but all are philanthropists.

What We Do

We believe in offering security and hope for people with cancer. Because many of us are cancer survivors and care providers ourselves, we can tangibly relate on many levels with their fears, emotional struggles, and financial needs. Our benefactors must be working when they are diagnosed, have less than $20,000 in savings or their 401k, and have a definable timeline for a return to work (not a terminal diagnosis). A stringent process is always followed before approving a candidate for funding.

We connect these people and their families to resources, whether financially from our funding or through connections to other organizations who can help.

Why It’s Valuable

No one serves in quite the same way we do. We take the time to really get to know our applicants, their needs, their medical history, and their current support system, and choose the recipients we believe we can impact the most with the currently available funds. We rally around our people, and invest time and experience into their recovery, empowering them to find what they need from our vast network of resources.

We never give cash; all our funds are delivered to the bill originator (PGE, landlords, etc.), or in the form of grocery cards, bus tickets, etc.

Remembering Hamid

Hamid Maarefi

Komak’s ongoing service in the Portland community, we pause to celebrate the man who’s loving spirit inspired friends and family to found this extraordinary organization.

Hamid Maarefi was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer at the age of 39. His life expectancy was measured in months. His story of love, hope, and courage inspires us.

True to his optimistic nature, Hamid focused on living each day rather than dying. He wanted to spend time with his fiancée and love of his life, Katrenka Rember, MD, whose devotion helped make this possible. They traveled extensively, enjoyed time with family and friends, and savored their time together. Hamid’s bright eyes, easy smile and enthusiasm for life touched many hearts and inspired many with cancer. Eleven months after his diagnosis, Katrenka was diagnosed with colon cancer. Hamid and Katrenka agreed that their commitment to each other and to making the most of each day was absolute, even in the face of daunting odds.

The quality of Hamid’s last years was enhanced by countless family members, friends, co-workers and, at times, strangers who stepped forward to help with caregiving, transportation, meals, shopping, house cleaning, gardening and medical bills.

Thankful for the support he received, Hamid expressed the hope that an organization might some day be created to assist individuals whose lives were being impacted by cancer. With the help of his dear friends Merle and Nasi Greenstein, Komak Inc., a community-based nonprofit, was founded in December 2006, just weeks prior to Hamid’s death. Hamid’s spirit of love, hope and optimism lives on through Komak.