Doing Well by Doing Good

George Mason MS in Real Estate Development (MRED) alumni Roger Lin (2016) and his business partners provided worried federal workers living in Old Town Alexandria with welcome help during the recent federal government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history.  Lin, a real estate investor and business entrepreneur, was the first restaurant owner in Alexandria to offer free lunches to furloughed government employees at Diya Indian Cuisine, a business venture that opened in 2018.

“My business partners and I are all immigrants. We went to school, worked and started families in this country. Along the way, there was always someone showing us generosity,” explained Lin. “When the federal government shutdown happened, I kept hearing story after story from my federal employee friends of the anxiety and financial stress that they were experiencing. I wanted to invite all of them to lunch. The idea emerged as something that we could do to pay it forward.”

The free meal offer was shared on social media and through local organizations such as the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce and Visit Alexandria.  For the next nine days, Lin and his partners gave away over five hundred complimentary meals.

“That week and a half overwhelmed our staff and stretched our resources thin,” recalled Lin. “We believed it was the right thing to do. We gave these folks an opportunity to simply enjoy a meal without having to worry about a stressful situation. The restaurant became a place where federal workers came to commiserate with each other or spend time with family and friends in the midst of so much uncertainty. Many other customers also came to dine with us because they wanted to support our effort.”

Lin also brings this sense of civic mindedness and volunteerism as an active member of the George Mason real estate alumni group and as an advisory board member of the Center for Real Estate Entrepreneurship.  He credits the MRED program as a large influence on his real estate ventures.

“I was already a residential real estate investor and a spec homebuilder before I enrolled in the MRED program. I recognized my limitations and wanted to understand how to invest and develop commercial real estate,” said Lin. “I enjoyed the classes but most importantly, MRED program was a great place to build relationships. I sincerely believe that the MRED network will eventually manifest itself in impactful projects and be a positive force for the entire region.”

The MRED program is now recruiting students for Fall 2019.  To attend an on-line information session on March 20, please go HERE. 


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