Citizens are getting creative when it comes to tackling hate crimes in America. One of the most innovative and successful programs is Cafe Maddy Cab, which provides safe taxi rides for vulnerable people. So far, the fledgling program has offered thousands of rides in New York, where it is based.
It all happened in 2020, following a spike in hate crimes. The pandemic has revealed a lot – and the underbelly of racism in this country was one of them. The AAPI community was and still is particularly targeted. Many felt unsafe leaving their homes or taking public transport.
This context led Madeline Park to act. The New Yorker began fundraising for safer rides under the name Cafe Maddy Cab in April 2021. It was a success, raising over $250,000 and setting up 7,800 rides. Transportation helps the most vulnerable members of the AAPI community, namely seniors, the LGBTQ+ population, and women. By the summer of 2021, the funding had been spent and it looked like conditions were improving, so the program retired.
But this retreat was short-lived. Cafe Maddy Cab is back, helping marginalized and targeted people who still don’t feel safe. He came back to life in May of his year with a new support. The program is now working with Krave Beauty CEO Liah Yoo and sponsorship from the Asia-Pacific Community Fund.
The idea is simple, effective and very popular. Interested parties complete a form for themselves or as a sponsor for Park’s team to review. The program then issues Uber codes to cover rides on a weekly basis. Park put in $2,000 of his own dough and began fundraising for the concept after a public transit ride to work across town. She says donations started piling up that evening, and with the service feeling imminently needed, Park got to work.
Park has lived in New York for over a decade. Originally born in Korea, she works as both a dentist and content creator in Brooklyn. Cafe Maddy Cab continues to rely heavily on volunteers, for which Park is eternally grateful. “Everyone works their time outside of their full-time job to help our community, and without them there will be no Cafe Maddy Cab,” she says.
The organization is barely two years old but the inspiring stories are already piling up. “We received a request from someone who needed to be taken to a job interview because they had lost their previous job during the pandemic,” Park explains. “And then, a few weeks later, the same person informed us that she got the job and needed to be taken to work. So it was amazing to feel so personally connected to the city even as we spent hours behind the screen running the program.
Part of the program’s success is due to savvy social media browsing. Park has taken to Instagram and TikTok to raise awareness about the important crowdfunding taxi service. The celebrities caught the wind and spread the good word, sharing the information with their massive audience and strengthening the service as a whole.
Cafe Maddy Cab is one of many AAPI businesses that readers should consider. As NBC reports, crimes against the community more than tripled in the United States in 2021, an alarming number to say the least. Although there is a threat, there must be protective services like this to keep people safe. Then, perhaps, Park and his team will move on on behalf of the community, when the current wave of danger has subsided (fingers crossed that will soon be the case).
“We want to run as long as we’re needed,” Park said. “But at the end of the day, the goal is to live in a city and a country where this type of organization is no longer necessary.”