Charlotte Community Foundation Newsletter  |  May 2020

Table of Contents

The Tapestry of Philanthropy

Ashley Maher

Your CCF Team

Covid-19 Community Relief Effort

Scholarship Program

The Tapestry of Philanthropy


May 2020

When we launched our inaugural edition of Gifts & Gab we were thrilled and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did in creating it. Fast forward to this, our second edition, and who could ever have imagined the situation we and the entire world has found ourselves in due to COVID-19. Our thoughts are with all of those who have lost loved ones and who are suffering with the disease.

The effects of this ongoing crises though have manifested in job and wage loss in staggering numbers across our community.

Our tapestry of philanthropy has grown in design to include a campaign in partnership with Charlotte County COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disaster), that was launched due to the immediate and unprecedented demands caused by the required preventative actions to quell the spread of COVID-19.

A community foundation creates connections between local resources, other nonprofits, and those in need.  Resources can be money, commodities and labor.  From the launch of COAD the applications have poured in with the total to date being 1,100, reflecting the dire need. The growing threads of our tapestry are creating a design that includes many former generous Donors but also many more new ones.  The picture evolving stems from the desire to help and will forever be interwoven in this story of compassion and selflessness.

The overall story of COVID-19 is at once one of loss and sorrow, fear, compliance and sacrifice but also one of giving and hope. Charlotte County is not a stranger to events that forever changed our area but to now be facing one that reaches around the globe, that has affected us in several adverse ways and may continue to do so for months, is one that we would have had a difficult time imagining even a few months ago.

To venture out for essential needs is to find oneself in something akin to a ghost town, very light traffic at the height of our tourist season, empty parking lots, the absence of school buses. People have accepted the realities, the subsequent stay-at-home, social distancing orders to help stop the spread of the disease and are doing their part. Our staff has been working remotely as have those of many other organizations and businesses. 

While there have been a few issues like hoarding (does anyone have extra toilet paper?!), cooperation has been the key word. We are all interwoven and connected as part of a story that changes daily and for which the ending hasn’t been written.  One thing remains constant, the caring residents of Charlotte

County (as well as a few who live elsewhere), have as always opened their wallets. The outpouring of donations and concern are much appreciated. With the generous matches provided by Cheryl Berlon and the Pennoyer Family Trust the HUG Fund is able to match up to $100,000.00  To date, all donations that have been received have been multiplied 1:1.

The strength, flexibility, unselfishness and resolve to do their part to help us get through this has been demonstrated by so many, medical personnel, educators, businesses, nonprofit organizations, government staffs and the residents of our amazing County.  Although we don’t know the ending of this story, since the design continues to flow, we do know that as a community we are so strongly interwoven with solid connections to each other that we will be unbeaten no matter what obstacle is placed before us.  I am very proud of my neighbors in Charlotte County, thank you for every effort that you have made and continue to make for the benefit of us all.

Ashley Maher
Executive Director
Charlotte Community Foundation

Your CCF Team

Leadership Team

Ashley Maher
Executive Director

Suzanne Herron
Chief Financial Officer

Justin Brand
Director of Community Engagement


Tonie Waters
Executive Assistant

Georganna Dodd
Administrative Assistant

2019-2020 Board of Directors

Lew Bennett

Jane Washburn
Vice Chair

Kim Savasuk

Robert Peterson

Laura Amendola

Jill McCrory

W. Craig Esterly

Bill Hawley

Lucienne Pears

Mark Draper

Brenda Lynch

Covid-19 Community Relief Effort

Submitted by: Ashley Maher (Charlotte Community Foundation),

Carrie Walsh (Charlotte County Human Services), Angela Hogan (Gulf Coast Partnership),  Angie Matthiessen (United Way of Charlotte County)

PUNTA GORDA, Florida (April 24th, 2020) – When  information about a new virus began trickling in this past January, no one could have fathomed how the world could possibly shut down, seemingly overnight.

In the U.S., Florida, and certainly here in our very own Charlotte County, the need is overwhelming. As of April 23rd, Florida has seen 1,818,594 Floridians file for unemployment (data provided by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity). The business situation is just as staggering. For instance, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was funded with over $349 billion, which was exhausted in less than a week. Congress has since approved an additional $310 billion which is anticipated to be exhausted in just a few days as well.

In response to this unprecedented global disaster, our community has developed the COAD ( Community Organizations Active in a Disaster) to address imminent needs. COAD has been organized into a series of task forces: Financial Assistance, Hunger, Youth and Education, Special Populations, Business Recovery, and Communications. To be clear, as we all wake up to a new normal every day, these task forces are fluid in addressing the ebb and flow of the local needs in our community as they come to light.

As an example, the Financial Assistance Task Force, reports that with the closure of our economy they have seen an uptick in individual/household needs. Many people are finding that their expenses are increasing during a time when only 6% of those who have applied for Unemployment Benefits are receiving them. Food is one expense that is rising with children out of school and in many situations both parents are at home as well. The requests made in the financial assistance applications range from FPL, car payments, car insurance, rent, mortgage, childcare, phone/internet payments, etc.

Financial Assistance

The Need: Less than 6% of filers have received unemployment assistance. Applicants in hospitality businesses make up 70% of the processed applications thus far. Nearly 83% of the requests received have been for rental/mortgage assistance, utilities, and car payment assistance. 

What’s Been Done: Emergency relief fund has been created and administered through the Charlotte Community Foundation in conjunction with HUG. A $100,00 match has been secured thanks to Cheryl Berlon and the James & Marian Pennoyer Estate Fund through CCF. 

 $115,000 already deployed through COAD financial assistance. 

 The Numbers: 

  • 245 total household members have been assisted 
  • Over 1,100 applications received

 The Ongoing Need: 

  • Average of 25-30 new applications per day 
  • So far 1,100 households in need of financial assistance 
  • Over $500,000 projected new financial assistance to meet the demand 

Nonprofit/Organizational Assistance

The Need: With over 300 registered Charlotte County nonprofits, there is a recognized area of need and ranges but all with a common need of unrestricted operational dollars. 

What’s Been Done: $150,000 in grant-making has been provided to local nonprofits through the Charlotte Community Foundation. 

How You Can Help: Nonprofits will continue to need operational dollars. The Giving Challenge through the Community Foundation of Sarasota County provides an immediate opportunity to local nonprofits to have the first 1:1 matched by the Patterson Foundation for donations starting at $25-$100. 

 Donors are encouraged to continue to communicate with their nonprofits of choice regarding their ongoing specific mission needs. 

Business Recovery

The Need: 

  • According to the current unemployment data: Charlotte County has had 3,322 initial claims for unemployment benefits with a labor force of 71,865 (4.6%). However, this number will likely soar as the backlog of filed applications has been resolved.
  • Charlotte County has one of the least diversified economies in Florida. Our dependence on the Accommodation and Food Service Industries will be adversely affected by COVID related closures.
  • Many business owners and service employees have lost valuable revenue and income that results from sales while seasonal residents are here.
  • Charlotte County ranked 48th among the top 50 at-risk areas for housing market damage from the virus.

What’s Been Done:
The COAD Business Recovery Task Force is sharing resources to increase knowledge of and access to small business loans and relief. Charlotte County’s Industry Associations and Chambers of Commerce have done an outstanding job of highlighting and assisting businesses in changing their business models and accessing resources for help.

Resources for Businesses:
Charlotte County Economic Development Office (EDO):

  • The Charlotte County Economic Development Office website offers one of the most        comprehensive Business Resources webpages for businesses that have been impacted by COVID- 19.
  • Making personal phone calls to area businesses to assist them with navigating the requirements and processes of available resources.
  • Conducting surveys of local businesses to collect data and assess needs.

Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce:

  • Offers a Business Information Membership (BIM) free of charge to provide inclusion, updates, information, and resources to all Charlotte County businesses.
  • Offered a virtual Lunch and Learn session on Navigating the Waters of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) in partnership with the Florida Small Business Development Center at FGCU.
  • Promoting the US Chamber of Commerce “Save Small Business Initiative”

Charlotte County Tourism:

  • Created a phone app “Outside Inside” available for download through the App Store or Google Play to help customers locate restaurants open for take-out and delivery.
  • Launched a campaign #BestSideYourSide – offering limited edition retro t-shirts to show support for Charlotte County hospitality businesses. ALL profits from every shirt sold go towards the COAD fund providing much needed financial support for tourism industry employees and businesses impacted by recent shutdowns.

Charlotte Desoto Building and Industry Association:

  • Advertising local open positions and employment opportunities for CDBIA Member Businesses
  • Sharing vital resources and information through online learning with the Florida Home Builders

Association and the National Association of Home Builders

  • Promoting Future Home Builders of America through a “Build a House Contest” with virtual
  • voting

Englewood Chamber of Commerce:

  • Creating: as a portal for customers of Englewood restaurants to identify who is offering takeout, curbside pickup, or delivery
  • The Englewood Chamber has also created a site: as a collaboration with Englewood Community Services to provide relief information in an easy to access format

Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce:

  • Highlighting local business activities and services
  • Promoting nonprofit needs and available resources
  • Offering a “Virtual Punta Gorda Farmers Market”


The Need: Our Food Taskforce is made up of local restaurant owners, grocery store representatives, local churches, government, non-profits, restaurant distribution businesses, food bank and food pantry staff, and community volunteers. The group is chaired by Joe Sabatino, president of the St. Vincent de Paul Diocese of Venice. 

 As unemployment surges and money gets tighter, the demand on food pantries has increased substantially. Many small food pantries in Charlotte County are experiencing shortages in both donated foods and volunteers, many of whom are elderly and are urged to stay home. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help many families in our community. The application is available online at and the total turnaround time to receive benefits is less than 10 days. With the SNAP program, individuals and families receive a card to use at grocery stores. This allows families to make their own choices about food for their households. 

 What’s Been Done: The COAD taskforce on hunger holds weekly meetings to assess the current landscape for supplies, best practices, and logistics. A sub-group has been created specifically for local restaurants to participate. As need increases the task force will respond appropriately. 

  • Through Harry Chapin Food Bank, over 2000 food kits have been distributed via drive-thru pantries held twice weekly. Each food kit contains 5 days of meals. Food distributions happen every Monday at Harold Avenue Rec Center from 10 a.m.-noon and every Thursday at Sacred Heart Church from 10 a.m.-noon 
  • Local food pantries reported serving over 1000 households in April 
  • Charlotte County Public Schools have provided over 64,000 breakfasts and lunches at area schools 
  • Boys & Girls Club are preparing hot meals 3 times a week to families in both Port Charlotte and Englewood. Thus far they have served over 1200 meals
  • Meals on Wheels of Charlotte County and Senior Friendship Centers is working with the taskforce and serving hundreds of senior citizens with home-delivered meals 
  • Shelf-stable meals have been provided to the homeless to avoid congregating

 An updated list of food pantries is available on that gives location, hours and type of distribution. 

As our community continues to navigate this crisis and prepare for recovery, seek out the available resources. No one in our community should go hungry. Food and food stamps are available to those in need. 

 Mosaic Co Foundation has donated $14,290 to Harry Chapin Food Bank for Charlotte County COVID-19 food relief. 

 Additionally, our Charlotte County Faith-Based Community has generously continued to care for families and committed to hosting local food drives on an ongoing basis during the crisis. While this list continues to grow, those Faith-Based Hosts are:

  • Deep Creek Community Church
  • First United Methodist Church of Punta Gorda
  • Port Charlotte United Methodist Church
  • Rock Calvary Community Church
  • First Baptist of Port Charlotte
  • First Alliance Church
  • Murdock Baptist Church
  • New Day Christian Church 

Ongoing Need: Continue to support local food drives.

Youth & Education

The Need: Parents and caregivers have been asked to pick up the role of tutor, school support staff, recess playmate, and more – some families are doing this while working from home, or while dealing with the stress that comes with being newly unemployed. Students are missing their friends and doing “school” in a new way. This creates stress for all our families, but it has exponential impacts on families who are struggling to meet their basic needs. Agencies which are still serving youth have been in need of school supplies to supplement e-learning and assist with tutoring, arts, and craft supplies for engaging younger minds, and most pressing of all the needs has been food for those families served by local social service agencies. Until we can ensure that the basic needs of these families are met, education will not be their top priority. 

 What’s Been Done: Charlotte County Public Schools have ensured access to technology to all families in the county, providing Chromebooks and purchasing “hot spots” for families without internet access. Breakfasts and lunches are distributed throughout the week, in addition to weekend food donated through the Backpack Kidz program. Supplies have been donated for the children of essential workers at the YMCA. Dinners are offered at two Boys & Girls Club locations three nights a week, in addition to food boxes from Harry Chapin, fresh organic vegetables from Worden Farm, resource and activity bags and many other items donated from the community. Port Charlotte United Methodist Church and Deep Creek Community Church have taken the lead on coordinating diapers, wipes, and fun items for families with younger children. 

 The Numbers: 

  • 560 hot spots have been given out with 440 more on order 
  • An average of 98% of students have logged into their classes and completed schoolwork district wide 
  • Over 64,000 student meals have been distributed
  • 1,591 dinners have been provided 
  • Over 30 packs/boxes of diapers have been distributed 
  • Over 200 boxes of organic produce have been donated for food-insecure high-risk families 

 The Ongoing Need: 

  • High-risk families with limited income and/or transportation issues will continue to require assistance with food and other basic needs 
  • Tutoring support for struggling students 
  • Summer reading, as well as book distributions, will engage volunteers and donations 
  • Encouragement for families who are experiencing toxic stress 

 How You Can Help: These families need support and they need to have access to basic needs like food, diapers, and toiletries. Students need access to books they can read when not engaging in e-learning to ensure we don’t see learning loss over the summer. 

 How Our Own Charlotte County Community Can Help: Donate to where 100% of the funds go into the Emergency Relief Fund and directly into our community. The Charlotte Community Foundation continues to match funds received, thanks to Cheryl Berlon and the James and Marian Pennoyer Fund. 

 Of course, financial assistance is critical and imperative in addressing our immediate and short term needs. But we also must be looking forward. This will end, infections will decline, social distancing will eventually ease and we will start to see a return to our new normal. While the medical crisis begins to abate, the humanitarian crisis will have a curve that extends much further into the future. As the Florida begins to re-open our economies and communities, the rebound will be slow and the demands on our non-profit service providers will grow exponentially. The solution? You, the Volunteers. 

 What would nonprofits do without our dedicated volunteers? During this period of social distancing when participating in your usual volunteer activities isn’t possible – and we’re sure you are missing that as much as our organizations are – we encourage you to stay connected with the agencies/causes that you believe in. Contact them via phone, email and/or through websites to watch for volunteer opportunities. Looking forward, we will need all hands on deck more than ever and eagerly await the time when we will see all of your caring, smiling faces ready to do whatever you can to assist in the good work of helping others. 

Charlotte Community Foundation’s

Scholarship Program

CCF Awards More Than $100,000 In Scholarships To 28 Recipients Through Eight

Scholarship Funds For High School Seniors and Undergraduate Students

The Charlotte Community Foundation (CCF) recently granted over $100,00 in higher education scholarships, through a competitive process, to local high school and undergraduate students from Charlotte County.

For the 2020 scholarship season, eligible students applied online and their applications were reviewed by a group of volunteers using a new platform.

“Once again the Charlotte Community Foundation was able to provide a traditional service to our community but in a non-traditional way,” said Justin Brand, Director of Community Engagement.”

2020 has been a time to utilize our technology platforms to the fullest by administering a complete scholarship program from applications, reviewing, to now awarding the scholarships and then receiving required follow-up information from the students, completely online. This type of seamless integration has allowed your CCF to continue our mission of Connecting People Who Care with Causes that Matter during a time of social distancing that has caused the need for us to adapt and change very quickly.

Dr. Bob Peterson, Chair of the Foundation’s Scholarship Committee, commented,

“I would like to thank the many reviewers who spent a great deal of time and effort reviewing all the applications submitted. It is always very enjoyable and rewarding to read about today’s youths in Charlotte County and all of the activities they are involved in and the accomplishments they make. These often are very difficult decisions to make as we have so many highly qualified applicants from which to choose. I also want to send a special thank you to the Donors of the scholarships. If not for their generosity, we would not be able to provide these awards.”

The Foundation’s process allowed each applicant to submit one application and apply it to several scholarships for which they were eligible and wanted to be considered. This process benefitted the students; they got the most out of the application process since it provided them the opportunity to apply for multiple scholarship funds at once.

“We used our new platform that complied with social distancing,” said Brand. “Working remotely, at least three reviewers were assigned to each application for a fair and non-biased review. Our scholarship reviewers have enjoyed staying connected with the youth of our community; many having done so for multiple years, by learning about their academic achievements, educational pursuit, and extracurricular activities.”

Despite the restrictions our community has been enduring during COVID-19, we have united in our efforts and adapted to allow the scholarship recipients to look forward to their futures by continuing to provide them the opportunity to pursue their higher education goals.

Your donations to this program could give the gift of a successful education to struggling students.