After seeing constant news reports and one shocking video after another of the recent spate of hate crimes against Asian Americans throughout the country, Maddy Park felt scared.
"Last week I took the train [in New York City]. It was a 30-minute commute and I realized every minute of that commute I was terrified. I was scared that any moment in time someone might say a racial slur or attack me. Worst of all I thought that if something were to happen to me, nobody would stand up," Park told ABC News’ New York City station WABC.
According to Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit organization that tracks such incidents, there were more than 3,795 hate incidents -- including verbal harassment and physical assault -- against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States from March 19, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021.
This got her thinking.
Park could afford to take a taxi herself but was keenly aware that there were many others in New York City, particularly Asian American senior citizens and Asian American women, who did not have the disposable income to be able to do the same.
So Park, with the help of some friends and $2,000 of her own money to get the project rolling, decided to put her money where her mouth is and started @CafeMaddyCab on Instagram with the purpose of paying for the cab rides of Asian American senior citizens and women.
"I just said look, I have $2,000, if you need a ride, just charge me on Venmo," Park said.
Little did she know at the time, this would end up being just a drop in the bucket for what was to come and, thanks to the magic of the internet, donations began pouring in.
Within 48 hours, she had raised over $100,000.
"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 city," Park told WABC in an interview. "It really opened my eyes to how many people are actually supporting the Asian community in New York City."
In fact, Park’s project has been so successful that donations had to be temporarily closed after running into the “weekly limit of payouts due to Venmo regulations,” according to a post on the Instagram page of @CafeMaddyCab.
Even though the project is only officially three days old, there are already plans to expand payment options since not all senior citizens know how to use Venmo.
Said Park in a social media post on Tuesday: “Thank you for your solidarity, your generosity, your kind words and support for the AAPI community … the point of this is to allow you to make the decision to be safe when you are about to be in a risky place or situation because a ride costs too much. So keep this post in mind for your safety.”