Father-and-son Caribbean hospitality leaders and devout philanthropists, Gordon “Butch” Stewart, Founder & Chairman of Sandals Resorts International (SRI) and Adam Stewart, Deputy Chairman of SRI, have made it their personal and corporate social responsibility to shape the lives and the future of the Caribbean for over 40 years. Through the family’s personal philanthropic efforts and the charitable work of the Sandals Foundation, the Stewart family has worked to positively transform the Caribbean while closely watching those that have also helped pave the way for a better future, giving back to the land and people they love most along the way. Together, they recognize those who possess their same dedication to giving back and honor those that have gone above and beyond to create a positive impact on the Caribbean and its beloved people.
Formalized in 2019, The Stewart Family Philanthropic Award recognizes the long-standing history of doing good in the Caribbean and honors executives, partners, and individuals whose exceptional leadership in the philanthropic sector has strengthened, built up and inspired entire Caribbean communities. This year, Joseph Wright (a.k.a. “Papa Joe”), Executive Director of Great Shape! Inc., was virtually presented with the coveted award by Adam Stewart on behalf of the Stewart family for his selfless dedication to providing services including dental care, eye care, literacy, computer training and equipment across the Caribbean. In attendance to honor Papa Joe were Great Shape! Inc.’s co-founders, executives and volunteers, the 2019 award recipient Heidi Clarke, representatives from the Sandals Foundation and many General Managers and PR Managers of Sandals® and Beaches® Resorts, including long-time friend and GM of Sandals Ochi Beach Resort, Kevin Clarke.
“Receiving the Stewart Family Philanthropy Award is truly one of the greatest honors of my lifetime, especially coming from the family who set the standard of philanthropy in the Caribbean so high over the decades,” stated Papa Joe. “I’m incredibly humbled and deeply moved to have the culmination of my life’s work recognized by the Stewart family, but truth be told, I really have to accept this award on behalf of every one of the 7,000 plus alumni volunteer heroes, our hard working team members, selfless board, generous supporters, community partners and countless others who collectively are the reason this award is even possible. Most importantly, the significance of this award is reflected in the hundreds of thousands of persons who can now smile better, see better, and learn better. In the end, this is all that truly matters,” Papa Joe said.
As the Executive Director of Great Shape! Inc., Papa Joe has been carrying out the vision of the charity’s original co-founders Myrtle Franklin, Georgene Crowe and Gretchen Lee – to lead some of the world’s largest, international humanitarian projects. Wright was instrumental in forging the Great Shape! partnership with Sandals Negril in 2003 for its 1000 Smiles Dental Project, which provided volunteer dental services in exchange for barter of hotel rooms. Together with the Sandals Foundation and SRI, the program has provided over 250,000 Jamaicans in rural communities to-date with access to free dental care, root canals, a sealant project, and a denture program. The project also expanded to neighbouring sister islands St. Lucia (2015) and Grenada (2018).
Additionally, Papa Joe helped orchestrate the launch of the iCARE Vision Project in 2009, expanding their services to provide free glasses, cataract surgery, Glaucoma treatment, children’s screenings and more. Nearly 45,000 patients in the islands of Jamaica, Turks & Caicos and Antigua have benefitted over the past decade. Furthermore, in partnership with the Sandals Foundation and the Ministry of Education, two literacy programs under Wright’s tenure – the SuperKids Literacy Project (2008) in Jamaica and the Teach the Teachers Project (2015) – have impacted over 115,000 students and 1,000 teachers in Jamaica.
“Papa Joe’s vision of building meaningful connections and seeing the Caribbean smile, year after year, decade after decade is not only inspiring, but empowering, and we are so honoured to present this award to such an exemplary individual,” said Adam Stewart, Deputy Chairman of SRI. “As we continue partnering together to transform the islands, we look to his example of dedication as the standard, having full confidence of the change it can create and the greatness it can instil in others to do the same for generations to come.”
The Stewart family annually celebrates those whose strong commitment to philanthropy and charitable work contributes to the greater good of the region they call home. Heidi Clarke, Executive Director of the Sandals Foundation, was honoured as the first-ever recipient of the Stewart Family Philanthropic Award in 2019 for her decade-long service and dedication to the Sandals Foundation. Over the years, Clarke has helped impact close to one million people in the region and has implemented hundreds of projects and programs valued at over $70 million dollars to-date. The Stewart family is extremely thankful for philanthropic trailblazers such as Heidi Clarke and Papa Joe for their devout dedication to the Caribbean and look forward to honouring future recipients for their transformative impact made across Caribbean communities.
Current and future recipients of The Stewart Family Philanthropic Award must exemplify:
Dedication to improving the lives of others, carving out success and creating real change.
Promotion of positive environmental and social transformation.
Breaking out from the norm, thinking, and doing different to serve his or her fellow Caribbean citizens.
Transforming the power of a program idea into action, impacting entire communities.
Providing opportunity to underrepresented, poor, and marginalized youth, playing an integral role in changing the lives of Caribbean children and families.
Evidence of meaningful contributions to the nonprofit sector and significant achievements in his or her field, and/or the service sector.
Ability to build and use organizational infrastructure to increase mission and community impact.
A minimum of 10 years of experience serving others to create lasting change in the Caribbean and beyond.