Overseas charity helping to build St Thomas
After travelling to St Thomas for nearly 20 years on various Christian missions, two Tennessee natives are hoping to bring brighter days to the island's poorest parish through education and job creation.
Matt Yates and Dave Pulvreath officially launched a non-profit organisation called One53 last August, on Jamaica's 53rd Independence Day. It focuses solely on improving the lives of St Thomas natives.
"What we have seen over the years is just a further decline of the economy and lack of jobs in the parish, so we really felt the calling to do something that will benefit people in the parish, to be able to create jobs," Yates explained.
The philanthropists have started the groundwork to establish a non-profit technical school in the parish, where interested persons can learn the basics of business, as well as various vocational skills, all with a view of going out to create their own jobs.
"In March, we brought business students from Lipscomb University [in Tennessee] and they taught the residents everything they could about business in a week," Yates explained.
He further noted that the charity gave the up-and-coming entrepreneurs non-interest micro loans, and they are under no obligation to repay.
"There's no penalty for not paying it back, but the benefit of them paying it back is that we can go and help other businesses," Yates noted.
One beneficiary of the charity is Borris Dixion, who was able to realise his dream of opening his own restaurant in March. The business, located in Morant Bay, is called Borris Back Yaad Restaurant.
"I think they're doing a great job. Each day I get up knowing I have a job to do and it's something I love doing. To serve someone from my own restaurant is the greatest feeling," said Dixon, who is a proud husband and father of three.
Yates works as a landscaper, while Pulvreath works in business development in Nashville, Tennessee. The two are currently ironing out the kinks of further developing One53.
"Whenever we see somebody fulfil a lifelong dream, like Boris opening a restaurant and we can walk into that restaurant and sit down and have a meal, I think that's touching. It's hard to put it into words. It's something that God has done through us" Yates shared.