SAN GABRIEL VALLEY, Calif. — Stop Asian Hate — It's a message that's become a mission for Brittney Au.
The past few months have been challenging for Au, as she heard about the continued rise in hate crimes and attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the country.
"I was beginning to feel so helpless and powerless with all the attacks going on around me," Au said. "Every day there was a new attack, every day it felt like they were getting closer and closer to home. I was tired of posting about it on my story, and ending it there."
So she decided to take action and create a new project: Compassion in SGV dedicated to ending hate in her hometown of the San Gabriel Valley.
Au had the idea after hearing about an initiative in Northern California called Compassion in Oakland where elder members of the AAPI community are connected with younger people who help them do tasks like: pick up groceries, walk home from work or run errands. Volunteers and elders sign up and then get partnered together.
Brittney decided to reach out to the organizers of Compassion in Oakland and asked if she could create a branch based in the San Gabriel Valley — an area that's about 60% AAPI.
"I've lived here in San Gabriel Valley for nearly 30 years, I feel really close to this community I was born and raised here...I felt like we just really needed something here to protect the community members," Au said.
On a recent Sunday Au and several volunteers convened at Focus Plaza, an outdoor mall in the San Gabriel Valley, to canvas and inform people in the community about Compassion in SGV. They were armed with pamphlets in many different languages: English, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and Korean.
"We want to provide a sense of security for these community members so they can feel comfortable going about their daily tasks," Au said.
Volunteering with Compassion in SGV was an easy decision for Steven Du, who was putting up posters and chatting with store owners about how they could sign up for the chaperone services. "I have family that are the age of people who are getting hit in the news, I feel a moral responsibility," Du said.
Store owners at the mall were happy to see the volunteers, and Au explained that the group would come back regularly to connect with the community on a regular basis and establish trust.
Even within the group of volunteers, different generations were connecting in new ways. Volunteer Jessica Wu brought her mother, Tulinh Wu, to help spread the word about Compassion in SGV.
"My grandparents are from San Gabriel Valley," Jessica said. "I think it's important to get out there and let people know we are here and most importantly that we can all rely on our community to come together."
Her mother was excited to be out volunteering too. "I really wanted to help but I wasn't sure where to start, so when I learned about this from my daughter I wanted to tag along," Tulinh said. "I'm amazed that this young generation is putting their passion into action."
For Brittney Au, empowering both younger people and the older generations is what Compassion in SGV is all about. "I think a lot of the community might feel powerless and helpless right now and I think our presence here can change that," Au said. "I hope we can continue to be a positive force within San Gabriel Valley."