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Cafe Maddy Cab: How this crowdfunded service is protecting the AAPI community

Cafe Maddy Cab is making NYC safer, one ride at a time

Citizens are getting creative when it comes to combating hate crimes in America. One of the most innovative and successful programs is Cafe Maddy Cab, which offers safe cab rides for the vulnerable. So far, the young program has offered thousands of rides in New York, where it’s based.

It all came about in 2020, in the wake of a hate crime spike. The pandemic revealed many things — and an underbelly of racism in this country was one of them. The AAPI community was and still is especially targeted. Many did not feel safe leaving their dwellings or riding public transportation.

A photo of Madeline Park.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

That context led Madeline Park to act. The New Yorker started fundraising for safer rides under the moniker Cafe Maddy Cab in April of 2021. It was a hit, raising more than $250,000 and setting up 7,800 rides. The transportation aids the most vulnerable members of the AAPI community, namely the elderly, LGBTQ+ population, and women. By the summer of 2021, the funding had been spent and it appeared conditions were getting better, so the program retired.

But that retirement was short-lived. Cafe Maddy Cab is back, helping marginalized and targeted people who still do not feel safe. It came back to life in May of his year with new backing. The program is now working with Krave Beauty CEO Liah Yoo and sponsorship from the Asian Pacific Community Fund.

The idea is simple, effective, and very popular. Interested parties fill out a form either for themselves or as a sponsor for Park’s team to review. The program then issues Uber codes to cover the rides on a weekly basis. Park put in $2,000 of her own dough and started raising money for the concept after a public transportation commute to her job across town. She says the donations started piling up that very night and, with the service feeling imminently needed, Park got to work.

Park has lived in NYC for more than a decade. Originally born in Korea, she works as both a dentist and content creator in Brooklyn. Cafe Maddy Cab continues to depend largely on volunteers, for which Park is eternally grateful. “Everyone is working out of their time outside of their full-time jobs 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 got a request from somebody who needed a ride to a job interview because they had lost their previous job during the pandemic,” Park says. “And then a few weeks later, the same person updated us that they got the job and they needed a ride to the job. So it was incredible to feel so personally connected to the city even as we were spending hours behind the screen to run the program.”

Part of the program’s success is due to savvy social media navigation. Park has leveraged the likes of Instagram and TikTok to make the world aware of the important crowdfunding cab service. Celebrities have caught wind and spread the good word, sharing the info with their massive audiences and boosting the service at large.

Cafe Maddy Cab is one of many AAPI businesses readers should take note of. As NBC reports, crimes against the community increased more than threefold in the U.S. in 2021, an alarming figure to say the least. While there’s a threat, there needs to be protective services like this to keep people safe. Then, perhaps, Park and her crew move on to something else in the community’s name, when the present wave of danger has subsided (fingers crossed that it does soon).

“We want to run as long as we’re needed,” Park says. “But ultimately the goal is to live in a city and a country where this kind of organization isn’t needed anymore.”

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Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
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