Maddy Park wanted a way to help Asian Americans feel safe in the wake of increased violence against them in America. She knew they had begun to fear public transportation — so she set out to raise $100,000 to pay for their Ubers and Lyfts and keep them off public transit.
Park lives in New York City and said that a subway ride left her anxious and fearful, so she felt compelled to create the Cafe Maddy Cab initiative. It pays for Uber and Lyft for female, elderly, and LGBTQ Asians.
“It was a 30-minute commute and I realized every minute of the 30 minutes, I was terrified,” Park said to WABC. “I was scared that any moment in time someone might say a racial slur, or attack me, or worst of all, I thought that if something were to happen to me, nobody would stand up.”
Park knew that while she was able to afford a ridesharing app or taxi fee, many others could not. She put her own $2,000 toward reimbursing others for their rides.
Word began to spread and within two days, she raised more than $100,000. That money went to riders via Venmo.
“People who are donating are people from all across the nation, across all races, ethnicities, and they just sent me messages saying, ‘Listen, we really want you guys to be safe too, and we’re donating so that more people can take rides in the cities,'” she told WABC.
Park started the Instagram page @CafeMaddyCab on April 2 and told viewers that they just needed to snap a selfie to prove they were eligible and provide the receipt of their ride in New York City.
They can then Venmo request the cost of the ride and she would forward funds up to $40.
Park did stop taking donations once she hit $100,000, but on Tuesday she said she would take them again via PayPal.
“We will use funds to support additional rides in NYC and also help fund & jump start similar initiatives in cities across the nation,” she wrote on Instagram. “So far we have one coming up for LA, SF started one on @calikyecab and expecting more people to organize in their own city.”
Users have thanked Park for providing this service.
“Thank you so much for doing this. I’m a current student who’s volunteering at a crisis call center and I’ve been very afraid of going to my shift and coming home alone,” one commenter wrote.
Stop AAPI Hate has reported an increase in violent attacks on Asian Americans. They said they have received 3,795 incident reports from March 2020 to February 2021.
“I really hope this program is temporary,” Park told WNYW. “This is simply started as a practical effort to keep people safe.”