HappyBirthday Mama G!
Volunteering provides an opportunity to evolve as an individual, help people survive in a developing country, and watch volunteers and beneficiaries thrive. For Georgene Crowe, the opportunity has been a life changer. Once shy and introverted, she was raising two daughters as a single mother. Through volunteering and travel, she found freedom and fulfillment.

Georgene is a professional hairdresser in Ashland, Oregon. Her clients can tell you countless stories of how she “shows up”… whether it’s a new ‘do,’ counseling from the salon chair, shopping trips for wigs for cancer patients, hospital visits, weddings, graduations, opening her home to people in transition… Georgene is a solution.

Her dedication to service at home is now expanded to include thousands of people in Jamaica, through the non-profit organization she co-founded, Great Shape! Inc. 

Georgene had never traveled much until a childhood friend convinced her to take a trip to Jamaica in 1986. She worried about leaving her two girls, but her friend insisted, “You need to get out and see this world.” Georgene did go to Jamaica, and it changed her life and consequently the lives of thousands of Jamaicans who now know her as just “Mama G.”

In 1988, hurricane Gilbert hit Jamaica, decimating the island. Georgene and the “mighty circle of aunties” (as her daughters call them) took action. Georgene, Gretchen Lee and Myrtle Franklin quickly started Great Shape! Inc., planned a fundraiser, and sent duffel bags full of needed supplies.
Twenty-four years later, Georgene and Gretchen (Franklin has passed on) continue to volunteer on the Board and help lead projects year-round—while still holding down their day-jobs. Georgene says, “When you start a project you have to own it, seek funding, work it and build it. Families depend on us.”  After the first shipment of duffel bags, the women raised enough money to build a road for a community of potters, added rooms to schools, and sponsored students.
Today Great Shape! Inc. leads three humanitarian projects every fall: the world’s largest, international, humanitarian dental project 1000 Smiles – SuperKids, a literacy project that improves reading, builds computer labs, encourages art, sports, and music – and iCare, which provides eye exams and glasses. Imagine never having access to dental care, books or eye care until now. Last fall Great Shape! Inc. provided services to over 40,000 people. One child praised SuperKids, “I never thought I’d really learn to read. T’anks Mama G and Great Shape!”
Mama G dreams Great Shape! Inc. will someday have a full time, paid staff and is confident they’ll one day build a year-round volunteer center in Jamaica where volunteers can stay and serve year ‘round. When Crowe is asked why she serves, she responds, “Why not! It’s my calling, it makes me happy and I look forward to it.  My kids grew up in it. Opening up your heart and soul is what it’s all about.”