Co-founders, Myrtle Franklin, Georgene Crowe, and Gretchen Lee are such long-time-devoted friends, they call each other sister… and hundreds have joined their family. These three women all kept their day-jobs as they raised money, dreamed big, and invested every spare hour to serving those in need (whether in their home towns or in the Caribbean). Their children serve Great Shape! and their childrens’ children volunteer. We are mighty.
Myrtle Anne Franklin
Peggy Barry school administrators unofficially re-named their school Myrtle Anne Franklin Preschool. Great Shape! crews built this school in 1996 with a $20,000 grant from the Butler Family Fund in Washington D.C. Before this grant, the 115 students learned to read and write in a makeshift 15′ x 15′ classroom without windows, ventilation or proper lighting. The school is just one testament to the power of Ms. Merkle (as the Jamaicans call her).
Myrtle was an artist, an activist… the matriarch. She nurtured and raised up many a leader that now serve the global community. Our Myrtle died after a liver transplant in 1996. Her heart beats in each of us.
Co-founder, Georgene Crowe is both an award winning hairdresser and a life-changing humanitarian. Raised in the red dirt of Redding, CA, this once shy girl blossomed through her flower-child years, and honed her leadership skills on our projects in Jamaica. Her two daughters and their families are just as passionate about serving others as she is. We call her Mama G and she uses her voice to influence hundreds…
To share the gift of love and life and receive even more from Jamaica: it’s the love that we share and the way that we care. We are all called to serve. I am blessed Great Shape! is one of my “callings” and I do give thanks and praise. Jamaica is a gift I received in 1986.
Co-founder, Gretchen Lee is known in Jamaica as “Getrin”. She raised her children as a potter, teacher, and most recently a teaching esthetician. Gretchen first went to Jamaica to support local artists by building a road into a pottery community. Now she uses her decades in the U.S school system to enhance literacy in Jamaica by serving the children, their teachers and their schools. Gretchen envisions libraries full of books in all the Jamaican schools.
My goal has always been to bring better health and education to the children of Jamaica and Great Shape! has enabled me to do this through our wonderful projects. As a teacher, I am excited about the literacy-empowerment program, SuperKids, which was implemented in 2008.