Kendall United Methodist Church, the Manfred Memorial Foundation, the Merritt Family and others with roots in Port Antonio, Jamaica have worked for over a decade in the community to bolster training and personal growth opportunities for the youth.
The success of these program has demonstrated the need for a more formalized training program that addresses both self worth and vocational training.
Meet James 'Al' Merritt and Patsy Merritt, Co-founders of PAVE Centre
Al was the visionary who developed the concept for the Centre after more than a decade of developing youth and ministry programs in Jamaica, alongside his wife Patricia Chin Merritt, originally from Jamaica.
Raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Al graduated with a BA in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati in 1983. After working in the U.S. and Latin America for Welch Allyn (a medical device manufacturer), he founded MD International Inc. (MDI) in 1987. Al grew the company to become the leading independent distributor of medical equipment to Latin America and the Caribbean. After developing a robust business for MDI, with offices in 8 countries, Al orchestrated a successful sale of MDI to Welch Allyn. His former MDI management team continues to run the business.
During the same period, Al and a partner built a real estate development company in Cincinnati that has renovated, sold and leased commercial and residential properties. After the sale of MDI this became Al’s primary business activity.
Since 1986 Al became a member of the Florida Chapter of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), a global network of business leaders. He was instrumental in the founding of a new chapter in Jamaica in 2008. His commitment to this organization grew in 2009 when he became a founding member of the YPO Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Gold chapter where he served as Learning Officer and then President of the Chapter. Al is a member of the YPO Southeast United States and Caribbean Regional Board.
Al is also active in philanthropy and evangelism. Al’s wife and partner in his endeavors is Patricia Chin Merritt. They have three children, ages 18, 21 & 24. They are active leaders at Kendall United Methodist Church in Pinecrest, Florida. Al has served on board committees and led the church’s Leadership Council for three years. He is currently responsible for leading the church missions and outreach programs. He also currently serves on the board of the National Christian Community Foundation of South Florida. In Cincinnati, the Merritt’s have been long term supporters of YMCA Camp Ernst, where Al once worked as the program director and sparked the camp’s efforts to attract more campers from other countries, as well as sponsoring disadvantaged youth scholarships.
In Jamaica, the Merritt’s have worked to establish a long-term sister church relationship with the Methodist Church in Port Antonio. Through this involvement over the past ten years and relationships forged, the PAVE Centre was born.
The Merritt's are currently managing their family office including a real estate portfolio, investment portfolio, philanthropic work, and developing a Christian Retreat Center in South Florida with a team of other community leaders.
Select projects include:
Fundraising Campaign for Computer Lab at Titchfield High School
Remodeling the Social Hall & Buildings at the Port Antonio United Methodist Church
Matching Grant Program for an Open Pavilion for the Titchfield High School. Est. completion Spring 2018.