When you ride a canary yellow bike — for free — along Punta Gorda’s Harborwalk, take a stroll through the city’s Artisan’s Atelier at Herald Court or even pull Punta Gorda Bicycle-Loaner Programa weed in a community garden, that’s Charlotte Community Foundation at work connecting people who care with causes that matter.

After Hurricane Charley roared ashore in Charlotte Harbor in 2004, a group of visionary citizens surveyed the damage and realized that rebuilding the city would take commitment and hard work and that it could not be done by government alone. So they rolled up their sleeves and created TEAM Punta Gorda, an all-volunteer organization dedicated to rebuilding the city as a great place to live, work and play.

Their first task? Develop a new plan for greater Punta Gorda that would guide its redevelopment. They knew they needed professional help to ensure that the master plan would have community input and the support of local government leaders. That meant raising funds to hire a master planner to guide the process.

TEAM Punta Gorda turned to the Charlotte Community Foundation for help. And the Foundation was there to lend its support.

We provided TEAM Punta Gorda with its first large donation to fund the planning process — a $20,000 Challenge Grant that allowed them to raise $200,000 in just eight short weeks to hire a world-renowned urban planner. “It was a very important thing to do,” says Nancy Johnson, Team Punta Gorda CEO. “The Charlotte Community Foundation’s support meant that we could pull different groups together to work collaboratively on the project.”

The result? The Citizen’s Master Plan 2005. Gifted to the city that year, the plan continues to guide the city’s growth today.

But that was just the start of TEAM Punta Gorda work. The organization — and its hundreds of volunteers — has continued its work to make a better community by undertaking countless projects, many of them made possible through the Charlotte Community Foundation’s support.

“Over the last decade, the Charlotte Community Foundation has provided us with more than $60,000 in direct grants, but the impact its support has had is even greater,” Johnson said. “We’ve been able to leverage those dollars to raise nearly $400,000 and to attract in-kind donations. But, most importantly, the Foundation’s support has allowed us to collaborate with many, many groups to work together to make our shared vision for our community a reality.”

Team Punta Gorda Projects Made Possible by the Charlotte Community Foundation include: