Published May 4, 2021 at 11:23am.
Story by Krystal Hargrove. Photos by Jan Osborn.
Mylinh Luong’s story as a philanthropist and community advocate begins with her early experiences as a refugee. In 1979, Mylinh and her family were among the thousands who fled Vietnam at the end of the Vietnam War. “Despite this turbulent childhood, terrifying childhood, I learned to be resilient.” Years later, the Luong family would receive support from the Catholic Church to bring them to the U.S., where they eventually landed in Dallas. It is this support that Mylinh credits with sparking her passion for community and philanthropy.
Currently, Mylinh works full-time as a strategic sourcing manager for the largest dairy producer in the country. After attending many civic and professional networking events, she and a group of twenty-one other Asian women began to wonder: “Where are all the Asian women interested in supporting our community?” Together, in 2015, they launched the Orchid Giving Circle to offer grants and foster philanthropy for the North Texas Asian community. Since its inception, the giving circle has provided over $831,000 to 22 organizations.
As the current Chair, Mylinh is more determined than ever to continue the growth and impact of the giving circle. The “stereotype of model minorities” and “how they don’t need help is a wrong assumption [that] definitely has put a wedge between us and other minorities.” According to a report from the State of Philanthropy among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, grants made to the AAPI community remain below 1%. Through the Orchid Giving Circle, Mylinh hopes to dispel the bias in philanthropy that the model minority myth has created and deliver much-needed resources to a community in need. For her, issues around women’s health, mental health, and support services for refugees and immigrants are pressing.
The challenges due to COVID-19 have only increased as they are stacked with anti-Asian violence. “I say, just know that the moment in which we are living in right now is so important, is so paramount, because all these things are being thrown at us, and happening to our community, that we need to learn and be allies. I think these are very important times.” As a result, she has refined her philosophy for allyship and self-empowerment for minorities to three simple points:
Speak up for yourself. Speak up for others
Being an advocate means being actionable
While this time in our lives is unprecedented, Mylinh remains hopeful for a better world and is restored by small but meaningful moments in her life, like enjoying walks outdoors with her parents and the thriving sisterhood that is the Orchid Giving Circle. “I have hope; I have faith that things are going to work out. [T]he organization[s] that we’re helping, are doing great work, and they’re in the trenches and making a difference in our community.”
Orchid Giving Circle has provided grants to twenty-two organizations in the last six years. Their grantees issue areas include but are not limited to education, domestic violence, arts and culture, and health and include organizations like the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, Dallas Chinese Community Center, and the Crow Museum of Asian Art.
Orchid Giving Circle is hosting the POWER Leadership Forum on Friday, May 7th. This professional development event will provide attendees with critical insights and tools from senior Asian women leaders to grow their leadership impact and drive change in their careers and communities. To learn more about the event or to support the Orchid Giving Circle, please visit orchidgivingcircle.org.