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‘Their only hope’: Central Oregonians create charity to help Afghans seeking to leave country

(Update: adding video, comments from board members)

New nonprofit plans golf tourney fundraiser: 'There's a lot of people that need to get out'

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Since the withdrawal of U.S. troops, not much has changed for many people in Afghanistan. Much as when NewsChannel 21 first talked with Redmond-area resident Haseeb Shojai in August, his friends and family are still under Taliban control, with limited resources -- and little hope.

But that's starting to look different for them, thanks to some Redmond residents.

"I'm in contact with them, and I think, as of lately, this organization is their only hope," Shojai told NewsChannel 21 on Wednesday.

That organization is "Supporting Afghan Families." It was created by a group of Central Oregonians dedicated to helping Afghan refugees.

Mike Grant, Shojai's friend and neighbor in Eagle Crest, came up with the idea.

"It was trying to find a way to help people," Grant said. "How do we make this a positive? That’s when I said, 'Okay, something we've done is golf tournaments.'"

Plans for a golf tournament quickly became plans to start a charity.

"Our focus right now is Afghanistan and on those people," Grant said. "And there's a lot of people that need to get out."

Grant, Shojai and a few others came together to create "Supporting Afghan Families."

"Once we get people here -- how do we support them? how do we get them on their feet," Grant said. "So this is more of a long-term project, not a one-year deal."

Word about the organization spread, and in just a month, the group formed a board of committee members and is on its way to receiving federal nonprofit status.

For Shojai, that means his neighbors are collectively working to do something to help his friends and family.

"I think people in this community have been very, very kind and gracious, to participate in this and just to be helpful," Shojai said. "Just to want to help people 7,000 miles away that they don't know at all -- is an amazing feeling."

The president of the organization, Mark Rathburn, is working closely with congressional representative offices across the U.S., Afghan rescue organizations. and state and federal agencies to help refugees.

At present, the charity is helping fund cellphone bills for people in Afghanistan.

In the meantime, Shojai is hopeful that he'll soon be reunited with his family.

"I'm thankful. I'm thankful for the people who participated in this, I'm thankful for the people who thought about this. And I'm thankful for people who are coming to support this." Shojai said.

The idea for a golf tournament is still happening. It'll be the organization's first fundraiser, followed by a traditional Afghan dinner.

Here's a link to learn more.

Author Profile Photo

Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.



  1. We should’ve been out of there years ago!!! Dear leader was apparently just a little too busy golfing to be bothered with saving American lives.

      1. Sure, sure he did! LOL! Apparently the plan was up his golf handicap while dozens and dozens of American soldiers were being killed. So as they like say in Redmond “**** Big fat failed and fired Donnie the bone spurs cadet”!!!

    1. You need to seek help, the TDS has got you all messed up.
      They still haven’t told Old Joe, what is going on over there, or if they did he doesn’t remember, otherwise he would have put that laughing hyena, (otherwise known as #2) in charge, and it would all be better now, you know like the “extraordinary success” she has had at the southern boarder.

      1. Probably too late for help for him price. There’s people out there that are giddy that gas prices are high, believes there’s no border crisis that it’s cgi images of immigrants there used by conservatives to make this administration look bad. That the one left behind in Afghanistan didn’t want to leave

  2. Wait. I don’t understand. Why is this needed? Hasn’t the PINO administration been telling us all along Afghanistan was an “extraordinary success?” #8646

  3. No, no, and no! We need to be taking care of our own first. The liberals need to look around at the hell hole they created in this country and start cleaning up our own mess before we go and clean up some other countries mess. I believe this is the liberals’ way of easing their conscious for the total screw up their leader did to the Afgan’s but more so to the Americans he killed left behind. Biden has blood on his hands for it and so does every one who voted for him. His actions are unforgivable.

    1. Serious issues? Yes. The country is a “hell hole”? I daresay the majority of folks would argue otherwise, or scoff at the label. It’s like folks who say Portland “is in ruins” – big issues for sure, but … no.

      1. That’s just your opinion Barney, and being a liberal I would expect that kind of response. The facts reflect differently. 1.5+ million illegals allowed to enter this country, by the invitation of your president, taking jobs away from Americans and those who are here leagally, crippling an already crippled social service agency. Highest inflation in years. 11,000+ jobs lost by the stroke of a pen loosing our energy independence. 13 Service men & women dead along with Americans being intentionally left behind. A level of homelessness that has never plagued this country like before along with open and tolerated drug use which perpetuates drug addiction. The list goes on and on and on all compliments of the liberal party. When you look at all that Biden has destroyed in just 8 months and compare it to how things were prior, yes, this country is becoming a hell hole. If the liberal party truly cared about this country none of this would be happening. But the liberal party wants this country to be equal to and no different than all the other progressive, socialist countries which are nothing more than a unflushed toilet bowl. The liberal ideologies are a complete failure and an embarrassment to this country and history has shown that. All you have to do is look at every State, county or city that a liberal is/has governed and they are all cesspools. And Portland is no different. Take of your LSD glasses off and see things for what they really are. The Demoncrats want a two class society. The rich who will have everything nice and those dependent on the rich who will have all the used left overs the rich don’t want. As far as “I daresay the majority of folks would argue otherwise, or scoff at the label” comment I believe you will have a real rude awakening come 11/22. Especially when Biden’s independent approval rating of 35% is still spiraling downward. As far as your comment “It’s like folks who say Portland “is in ruins” – big issues for sure, but … no”, big issues become big issues because small issues aren’t addressed immediately. Which is what the Dem’s are notoriously known for. They put on their LSD sun glasses pretending it doesn’t exist and when it blows up in their faces they run around like chickens with their heads cut off screaming “What do we do, what do we do.” Ahhhh, let’s raise taxes, spend more money on a problem they created and hope it goes away. Well, how’s that working for your party?

        1. I stated a simple fact. Portland is not ‘in ruins.” Feel free to go on about everything else you see wrong with the country/world and who to blame. I was making a specific, factual point, you say everything was fine and now everything is wrong. You are entitled to your opinion. I also believe generalizations are just one part of the Blame Society that makes things worse – all our side is good, all your side is evil etc. I hope those who reject such a polarized world check out Braver Angels – or heck, the group featured here. Positive acts are worth a lot more than a mountain of blame. And that, yes, is my opinion. And thankfully, many others as well whom I have met online or in person, who are tired of and even frightened by the blame wars.

            1. That does not say downtown is “in ruins.” The riots/violence were bad and there WERE numerous arrests. But I don’t recall a riot declaration by Portland police this summer. Instead, homicides, primarily shootings, have been the critical issue this year. It’s all very bad, but overstatements don’t make the urgent debate on what to do about it any easier to resolve.

  4. I’m all for the hope and welcome that the US provides people all around the world BUT this kind of stuff should be happening HOME first! These people are so generous, fix the homeless issue in this town FIRST! This is not a difficult concept to understand. Do you think foreigners want to see streets full of people living in old, beat up, cars and RVs? This makes no sense. It’s like inviting a bunch of people to a party at your place and you didn’t clean up, get drinks, or food for the guests…they don’t want to come to that kind of party.

    1. I think for folks leaving everything behind to escape a government in a war-torn country, seeing people living in RVs on the street isn’t going to be a significant deterrent.

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