Celebrating Jason Lin during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

By USCRI May 23, 2022

We are excited to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May, which was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, given that the majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

We would like to mark the occasion by featuring the remarkable story of Jason Lin, whose relationship with the USCRI Cleveland Field Office goes back more than 40 years. In 1975, Jason, his wife, and their two young children escaped as refugees from Vietnam one week before Saigon fell and were resettled by our field office in Cleveland. After working at Standard Oil in Terminal Tower, Jason and his wife opened Cleveland’s first Vietnamese restaurant, Nam-Wah. Jason has overcome much adversity on his way to becoming an international businessman. When his family first arrived, there were very few Asian people in Cleveland, and his family worried they wouldn’t fit in. While he has faced discrimination, Jason said he overcame it with “hard work and go-getter attitude.” Like many refugees, Jason initially worked two jobs to provide for his young family in their new country.

He became a U.S. citizen in 1981 and the family was adjusting well to their new community. But then in 1982, he was tragically injured, losing both his legs while helping jump-start a stranger’s car. But this did not stop him. Instead, Jason opened six more restaurants and spent the 1980s sponsoring and employing refugees from Southeast Asia. By the end of the 1990s, Jason owned restaurants in five countries and ran a successful international business importing goods from Asia.

Despite discrimination due to his ethnicity and his disability, Jason became an international businessman and a pillar of the community. Jason started his own non-profit for elderly Asian people in Cleveland. In 1997, Jason bought the Lin Omni Square, where the USCRI Cleveland Field Office is now located.

“The meaning of Omni is international. I’ve had so much help from Cleveland, this city has given me a future. This building is for helping the community,” Jason said.

Upon hearing about the Afghan evacuation and resettlement efforts in 2021, Jason donated the space we use as our Donation Center in Cleveland, giving us free rent for more than six months. In March 2022, USCRI Cleveland moved our offices to the third floor of the Lin Omni Square, which is quickly becoming a hub for the international non-profit community.  

We want to recognize Jason during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month for his kind heart, his perseverance, and his determination to start a new life in the U.S. while helping his community and for being a remarkable example and helping hand to other refugees. 

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