By Ruth Bayang
Northwest Asian Weekly
Hundreds of volunteers have pledged to support an organization in Northern California to escort elderly Asian Americans through their neighborhood after a series of attacks against them in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Compassion in Oakland, a group founded by Latino activist Jacob Azevedo, has more than 300 volunteers to accompany anxious elders on walks and errands. Azevedo said he was forced to take action after learning of consecutive attacks in his community. One came on January 31, when a 91-year-old Asian American was knocked to the ground in Oakland’s Chinatown – the attack was just one of many that happened last year.
On their website, Compassion in Oakland provides a form that users can use to request a supervisor to go with them. However, if someone needs a supervisor within 15 minutes, they can call a number or send a text message to request immediate support.
“We strive to provide the Oakland Chinatown community with a safety and community resource,” says Compassion in the Oakland Mission Statement. “We want to hug the often forgotten, underserved and vulnerable people. We encourage compassion, not indifference, unity as opposed to division. Promoting a more caring and safer Oakland for all. “
Azevedo told CNN he hoped the group could work with law enforcement soon to keep the community safe.
On February 13th, Compassion got off to a smooth start in Oakland. The organization posted a photo on Instagram of 10 volunteers standing outside the Asian branch of the Oakland Public Library in Pacific Renaissance Plaza.
“First day with feet on the streets!” the label read. “Thanks to our first group of volunteers! It felt good to be in the community and to work together. Cant wait to do it again! “
In a separate initiative, the Oakland Chinatown Coalition is organizing a volunteer foot patrol to join the existing efforts of the Chinatown Ambassador Program. They call it “community strolling” – which means volunteers hand out “red envelopes” to build relationships with community members and visitors by cleaning up trash, removing corporate graffiti and murals, keeping sidewalks clean, and more.
Ruth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.