Helping and Empowering Single Mothers
Reaching Out to Disadvantaged Women from a Family Perspective
When the Yunlin County Women Protection Association was newly founded, most of its directors and supervisors came from Yunlin Lifeline. They had been answering calls for help on the lifeline at that time, and eventually realized that once they hung up the phone, nothing could be done to follow up on these divorced women, victims of domestic violence, and single mothers. Since Yunlin lacked a social welfare institution dedicated to women-related issues, they decided to pool their resources, and in 1999, established the Yunlin County Women Protection Association, hoping that it could support women's growth.
CEO Lin Ming-chu said, "Family is our starting point, so we not only focus on single mothers and female victims of domestic violence but also extend our outreach to their family members. In recent years, we have also expanded the scope of our services to include teenagers, including sexual assault victims and teenagers with drug abuse." Amid their quest to help women, they realized that Yunlin also lacked institutions providing care to teenagers. The problem of drug abuse around teenagers is worsening, and this entails risks from family. Therefore, the association cooperates with the police and health department to include parents when counseling teenagers with drug abuse, helping these kids return to their families. These tasks require long-term persistence for results to show.
Single mothers are often unable to drive their children to after-school programs. Also, they have to work on weekdays. Even though schools provide after-school classes, there is still a gap during summer and winter vacations. In order to keep children on the right path, the association seeks out social resources to compensate for what school resources lack. Through teenage camps, the association encourages teenagers to learn how to get along with their peers from different backgrounds and to understand and accept different social values. This facilitates spiritual growth and lightens some of the single mothers' burden.
Providing Breakfast for Disadvantaged Families
While organizing camps for teenagers, the association observed that children from single-parent or disadvantaged households were often quite skinny, mostly because they couldn't eat breakfast. Lin Ming-chu said, "In about 40% of families under the association's care, children were found without breakfast. For some families, financial trouble prevented them from providing breakfast every day. Other parents might have neglected to provide breakfast since that these parents think children can get school lunches at school and bring leftovers home for dinner."
The association established Ling Lang Benevolence Brunch, which not only serves the public but also bears the important mission of providing 40-60 sets of free breakfasts for children in need every day. Lin Ming-chu said that the brunch cafe has an established service platform that works with schools to survey and tally up the number and names of free lunches service, then the association sends the breakfasts based on this list to schools for the children to eat before taking the class.
Children without having breakfast before school entails that children live in a household at high-risk. Many social incidents have gone severe by the time they were discovered. Therefore, the association tackles the issue through school investigations, reminding teachers to take note of students' health and family conditions. Through the communication network of the service platform, social workers also visit the families that accept the free breakfast service. These families are more likely to let their guard down and accept intervention to help resolve issues.
Building the Ling Lang Brand Alongside Workforce Development Agency
In order to resolve hidden social issues, the Association cooperated with the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) since 2001 through the Sustainable Employment Project, the predecessor of the Multiple Employment Promoting Program (MEPP). At that time, the association used this collaboration to establish the Ling Lang Meal Box Diner, the first operation under the Ling Lang System. This later expanded to include Ling Lang Cleaning Services and today's Ling Lang Benevolence Brunch. Thanks to MEPP, the Association was able to build the Ling Lang brand and provide all kinds of services. Lin Ming-chu said, "At the time, we found it relatively difficult for women in Yunlin to get employed since higher education and professionalism were not common to them. Also, most working environments were not children-friendly. Then, the association drew their attention to the skills these women possessed, such as cooking or cleaning and established Ling Lang Meal Box Diner and Ling Lang Cleaning Services respectively. These women were then got employed through MEPP which eventually solve local employment issues."
The association has limited resources. However, over these years of cooperating with WDA and empowering women re-entering the job market, it becomes a force supporting the employment of disadvantaged women in that area, and also gathered momentum. In the beginning, the association helped with the administrative management, business, and marketing of Ling Lang Meal Box Diner and Ling Lang Cleaning Services. Following a period of assistance, all operations have been handed over to those who were originally hired through MEPP. We reached an agreement with them, said Lin Ming-chu. A certain percentage of income has to be set aside in an emergency relief fund to help more families in need.
Over the years, the association has continued to apply for assistance of WDA for different projects based on the demographic the association serves. The association does not only continue to provide free meals through the brunch cafe but also provide local job opportunities, hire single mothers or disadvantaged women. At the same time, these projects have been increasing the association's income and contributing to the emergency relief fund.
Hopes of Building a Replicable Model in the Future
Lin Ming-chu said, "The association benefited a lot from MEPP. It allowed us to increase our ability to help others. Most of the association's funds had come from donations; we had no stable income. By carrying out MEPP, we were able to establish the Ling Lang System. This enabled us to provide more job opportunities to disadvantaged women, alleviate their financial troubles, and bolster their professional skills to help them become independent."
Lily of the valley flowers looks like hanging bells in shape. In Japan, they represent happy wishes when gifted to someone. It is the same for the founding principles of the association, which uses the flowers as a symbol to encourage women in need: Hardship will pass. Happiness will come.
The association hopes to replicate the operating model of Ling Lang Benevolent Brunch in the future, using the current site in Douliu as a headquarter to establish standard operating procedures for managing systems, employee service systems, and products. If women from other regions with intention to start a store, or if organizations from other cities and counties are interested in replicating this operating model, the association will provide them with franchise partnerships as long as they identify and accept with the Ling Lang ideals and are willing to provide job opportunities for single mothers or disadvantaged women. The same applies to the currently independent running meal box diner and cleaning services. The association hopes that such an opportunity can help women everywhere to secure a steady income, find hope and direction for the future, and become the strength behind a stable family.
▲With help from the Multiple Employment Promoting Project (MEPP) of Workforce Development Agency (WDA), Ministry of Labor, Yunlin County Women Protection Association established the Ling Lang Benevolence Brunch to help women in employment, and provide free breakfast to children in need.
▲Ling Lang Benevolence Brunch not only provides single mothers with job opportunities but also serves public welfare.
▲Ling Lang Benevolence Brunch provides all kinds of breakfast dishes, like this seared chicken thigh set meal. Yunlin County Women Protection Association hopes to create an operating model that can be replicated by single mothers who want to establish their career models with the same ideology.
Case Story - Multiple Employment Promoting Project
Yunlin County Women Protection Association - Lin Ming-chu
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Please attribute this article to “Workforce Development Agency, Ministry Of Labor”.