Charley and the Charlotte Community Foundation
DAVIS Like so many other businesses and organizations in our area, the events of Aug. 13, 2004 made significant changes to the Charlotte Community Foundation and its operation.
Since 1985, the organization had been known as the Charlotte County Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation that focused specifically on health and education issues.
The foundation's office was located in the historic 1903 A.C. Freeman House in Punta Gorda.
As the storm approached, Carolyn Freeland, the foundation's executive director at the time, her husband, son and many volunteers worked to protect and preserve the 100-year-old building. Despite their efforts, the building suffered significant wind and rain damage. Because the building was uninhabitable for almost a month following Aug. 13, Rex Koch of Koch and Co. on Virginia Ave. provided office space for the foundation's staff at no charge. He did the same for a number of other small organizations.
Like so many others in Charlotte County, the foundation was committed to rebuilding. The group was not only committed to rebuilding the building, but to the foundation's mission to help Charlotte County recover and move forward. In November 2004, as clean-up and rebuilding efforts were under way, the foundation's board of directors worked on the strategic planning process. A new vision emerged. The board adopted a strategic plan that transitioned the organization into a "community" foundation dedicated to "improving the quality of life in Charlotte County, Florida." With a new name and a new mission. the Charlotte Community Foundation Inc. set a course to encourage public and private philanthropy, enhance the capacity of Charlotte County's nonprofit organizations and support projects that offer unique solutions to community needs.
To help the rebuilding process for the community, the Charlotte Community Foundation provided two $25,000 grants to TEAM Punta Gorda to help create the 2005 Citizens' Master Plan to guide future development of the Punta Gorda area. A grassroots organization, TEAM Punta Gorda was formed out of concern about the rebuilding of the city. Its purpose was to bring together residents, business and property owners and government officials to plan the rebuilding and revitalization of greater Punta Gorda.
In 2005, the Foundation was faced with a difficult decision. The new mission set by the board late in 2004 would call for an expansion of foundation activities and staff. If the foundation stayed in the Freeman House, it would have to be transformed to office space, effectively removing the Freeman House from the National Registry of Historic Places. The decision was made to present the historic building to the City of Punta Gorda as a gift and find new office space. The city then moved the building to its current location at the corner of Retta Esplanade and U.S. 41.
In August of 2005, a year after the hurricane, executive director Carolyn Freeland wrote, "Families are returning to homes, some larger and better than before. In the months ahead, our county's new central library will reopen. This is all happening after the media, the extra police forces and many of those fine volunteers went home. All this occurred after the money began to dry up or even as many homeowners and business owners continued to wrestle with insurance policies or building regulations. In short, all this happened for us because of us. We worked together instead of sitting down and waiting for the next shipment of help to arrive. Over the past year we have seen what we can do if we work together. This year has taught us the value and beauty of working with each other — for each other."
We could use that attitude today to combat the current economic crisis.
The Charlotte Community Foundation emerged from the shadow of Hurricane Charley stronger and even more focused on the mission to advance the common good by nurturing a giving community and connecting people who care with causes that matter. Today, we continue to follow that Mission Statement and our goals to engage the community in giving through philanthropy, and serve as a catalyst to improve the capacity and effectiveness of local nonprofit organizations. ¦
The Charlotte Community Foundation
unites individuals, families, businesses
and organizations with causes
they care about by creating permanent
charitable funds to help the community
meet the challenges of the future.
A part of the community for more than
20 years, CCF is focused exclusively on
Charlotte County. For more information,
org or call 637-0077.