My name is Jacob, and I live here in Oakland, CA. A lot has happened in just over a week!! Last week, I posted on my Instagram about how I wanted to offer myself as a somewhat community escort for the elderly Asian community here in Oakland's Chinatown. I work here in downtown Oakland about a five minute walk from Chinatown and I just could no longer sit and do nothing after hearing about the disturbing rise in unprovoked & violent attacks against elderly Asian citizens. The idea for this fundraiser came from the fact that, at that time, I was wondering how can I help those if I am not around. After looking up various self-defense weapons, it came into my head that by giving elderly citizens say pepper spray, for example, there is a risk that if they tried to use it, it can be taken from them and used against them. I discovered these personal alarm devices and although not a full proof way of preventing them from being hurt, the alarms can either scare an attacker away, or they can attract the attention of those in the nearby area and help can get to someone who needs it. Well, within just days, and after catching the attention of the local news (see news story below), I received over one hundred emails of people who were wanting to help in the form of offering themselves as community escorts for the elderly. From this huge pool of emails, I picked out a few of them who have more experience than I do when it comes to getting these types of numbers of people organized, which has now become an entire volunteer organization of its sort.
We are Compassion In Oakland, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of unprovoked & violent attacks against the Asian community, not only here in Oakland, but in communities across the country.
Currently, we are working our hardest to get our first wave of volunteers onto the streets working as community escorts for not only the elderly, but anyone in the Chinatown area who it would make them feel more at ease if someone accompanied them to their destination. Our focus is primarily on getting these first volunteers onto the streets given that it is a busy week for the Asian community due to Lunar New Year. Our next task of focus is to get these personal alarm devices and purchase and distributed, which we intend to do that within the next two weeks. The reason I closed the GFM so quickly was because we not only did we reached our goal in less than 24 hours, but we went over 6x our original goal! Because the GFM was originally made when it was just a one-man show, that is the reason it is registered just under my name. Due to the high amount of funds raised and we are currently not a registered 501c3 non-profit organization, there are a lot of tax related issues that need to be taken into consideration, which is the main reason we closed the GFM. We are working closely with the president of Chinatown's Chamber of Commerce so that he can assist us in regards to that issue. Not only are we now going to be able to get many more of these devices into the hands of people who need them, any excess funds will be going back into community based off recommendations from the Chamber President, which we also post an update about where and how we do that. You can stay updated with that by following our Instagram @ compassioninoakland . For those asking questions about who will withdraw the funds and how they will be spent, since this GFM is registered in my name and I created it when I originally thought it was going to be just me doing all of this, the way this process will have to work is that I have to withdraw the money into my account, I will then donate the full amount to the Oakland Asian Cultural Center via the Chamber of Commerce President and then he will give us access to the funds so that the alarm devices can be purchased.
So much as happened in just one week. We have had many more people sign up to be volunteers than we anticipated, which is great, but there are many things that we must take into consideration before just sending them onto the streets. In only 4 days of having volunteer sign ups, over 160 people have filled out our volunteer sign up sheet wanting to assist in some way! Also, in only one week, my original post has garnered nearly 20,000 likes and shares. We have been featured on both the Instagram page & Twitter of Crazy Rich Asians actress, Gemma Chan, as well have been featured on local news ABC7 with reporter Dion Lim (link attached below).
Follow our instagram to stay up to date about what we are doing and when we begin to post that we got the personal alarm devices purchased and ready to distribute. We will be collaborating with a long established local group, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, who have been assisting low-income elderly Asian senior citizens here in Oakland for over 15+ years, so that they can help us distribute the devices into the hands of those who need them the most. If you are still looking to donate, please visit their Instagram page @ apen4ej as they are a great way that you can help out the Asian community here in Oakland in the meantime.
Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for everyone who donated to our fundraiser. I am still in disbelief at how fast this has developed in just over a week and I am very excited about what will be able to do in the coming days!
Please check out the link below to see the story on ABC7 Bay Area!!
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