Compassion in Oakland's free chaperone service protects AAPI elders in Bay Area

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Compassion in Oakland (CIO) co-founders Jessica Owyoung and Katrina Ramos believe that when you show kindness, care and love, change will come.

In February 2020, compassion was born from social unrest in the form of a nonprofit dedicated to empowering the AAPI community.

"We started as a reaction to what was happening, the attacks that were happening to our fellow Asian Americans, to people who looked like my parents and my grandparents," said Owyoung. "It came to a point where I couldn't sit back and watch anymore, I had to take action."

Growing from one to over 500 volunteers, Compassion in Oakland provides community members with resources that promote unity, safety, and awareness. The organization's chaperone services focus on assisting the elderly community members that make up Oakland's vibrant Chinatown neighborhood.

Amidst recent attacks, CIO strives to protect AAPI elders by walking with them on their way to a destination.

"I would love for them to see us as someone accompanying them, being their buddy, and being able to lean on us to support them with any appointments, errands, or anything that they have to do," expressed Ramos.

The large group of volunteers hail from throughout the Bay Area, easing the concerns of elderly individuals as many emerge from their homes for the first time since the start of COVID-19.

"Our volunteer base is really diverse. It's the community coming out to support the community, no matter what background they are," said Owyoung. "Someone just being there without having to say anything really communicates worlds to those who are in fear."

To request a chaperone, fill out this form or call/text (510) 200-8682. After receiving the escort request, CIO will pair you or your loved one with a volunteer to accompany the journey.

"If we could help just one single person feel safer while they're walking, then I think that we've done and supported our mission," said Ramos.

Compassion in Oakland continues to expand their services and recently opened a new chapter in San Francisco's Sunset District.

For more information about Compassion in Oakland, go here.

To become a volunteer, visit here.

Go here to place a donation in support of CIO.

Follow @compassioninoakland on Instagram for the latest updates.