HeroVet: Malcolm S. Pray, Pray Achievement Center
This Veterans Day, we recognize a former serviceman and business entrepreneur. The U.S. Air Force’s very own Malcolm Pray is using his considerable wealth, knowledge and enthusiasm to inspire young people and help them to realize their dreams.
And next month, the United Service Organization (USO) will present him with its highest honor recognizing a lifetime of service.
The USO of Metropolitan New York will present Pray a gold medal for his service and sacrifice in uniform and his humanitarian work for five decades. His lifetime of service spans as far back as his days in the Air Force during the Korean War. Entering civilian life, he joined a small, imported car dealership, which he built over the course of 40 years into one of the country’s most successful dealerships and sold just a few years ago.
Pray continues to be a collector of vintage automobiles and has over 80 classics in his collection at his home in Greenwich, Conn. and at the Pray Achievement Center in Banksville, New York. He uses his collection and his love of the automobile to educate and motivate young people at the Pray Achievement Center.
"Young people today do not always listen to parents, and most teachers or counselors have had little or no business experience. I can trace my first experience with automobiles to the World’s Fair in 1939, and the New York Automobile Show in 1940," Pray said about his most inspirational childhood experience introducing him to the automobile business.
"My motive is to create a similar excitement and give to these young people some moral and business guidance, that they might not get elsewhere," he added.
He dedicated the Pray Achievement Center to serving youth in his community. The center has become a widely recognized educational center in the New York tri-state area, giving guidance to underprivileged children.
"It is my plan for this educational center to continue in perpetuity…Hopefully it will help to develop many future millionaires," he said.
Local Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs members, and children from all walks of life from the Bronx, New York to Bridgeport Connecticut have visited the Center to get a first hand view of these magnificent cars and hear Pray talk about how he achieved his success. His purpose is to "share his cars to inspire young people and give them the desire to make something of their lives," he said.
It’s made an impact that’s expected to deliver future dividends. As one child offered in a handwritten "Thank You" note back to Pray:
Thank you for talking to us about success and how to become a millionaire. I will remember that people are our greatest asset. If we are to become successful, we must win people over with our good character. The next time we meet I will be a person that "Makes Things Happen."
Community & Business Leadership
Pray is also an outspoken contributor & keynote speaker at community Veterans Day ceremonies in Connecticut, once suggesting that "Patriotism 101" be taught in high schools.
In various capacities, he has served the Greenwich Chamber of Commerce, the Greenwich Council of the Boys Scouts of America, the American Red Cross, the Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich and the Greenwich Boys and Girls Club. He has also held numerous fundraisers for such organizations as the Bruce Museum, the Greenwich Symphony, the YWCA and Norwalk Community College.
His business accomplishments include founder of the American International Automotive Dealers Association; chairman of the Volkswagen and Porsche/Audi Dealer Councils.
He has a wife, three daughters and five grandchildren.
Image Credit: https://www.greenwichsentinel.com/2015/12/18/pray-achievement-center-inspires-greatness/