How it all Began .....
In 1987, Ben Montenegro, Department of Public Safety Director, and Rick Ghilani, a town Selectman, placed a wishing well at the Sunnyside Café to collect money on behalf of Ashland townsfolk in need. When they had collected about $150 in change, they brought it to Isabel Harrison, the Town’s Youth Advisory Director and de-facto Social Services Officer.
It took Isabel about ten seconds to thank them and another twenty minutes to point out that the $150, while very welcome, was just a drop in the bucket when compared to the realistic need that could be found in Ashland at the time.
With Isabel's lecture in mind, Ben, John Ellsworth, and five other concerned citizens founded the Ashland Emergency Fund. In the 20 years since, the fund has collected and disbursed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Ashland citizens in need.
What has The AEF Become?
The AEF is an IRS-recognized, tax deductible charity whose sole mission is to provide temporary, emergency financial support to Ashland families and citizens.
Who qualifies for Assistance?
Any Ashland resident can qualify. Those receiving assistance are often our neighbors and friends.
AEF Cash Flow
Donations received, revenue earned from bingo, and assistance given by the AEF have risen steadily over the past 25 years. But changes to the no-smoking law reduced the amount of revenue received from bingo and hurt bank balances. The AEF successfully shifted its fund raising more toward providing a broad awareness of the need that is present within our town. Bank balances are healthy once again.
Giving Program Scope
In 2000, the AEF Board of Directors decided to expand the scope of the giving program. Revenue from the very successful Friday Night Bingo had increased steadily since the bingo was established. Those increases in income directly resulted in more aggressive giving programs, and assistance rendered rose steadily over time from a base in the mid-1990’s of about $25,000 to approximately $65,000 in 2004. 2004 saw changes to the No Smoking laws which caused a dramatic reduction in receipts from the AEF Bingo. AEF Giving Programs had to be reduced below $40,000 (with no contributions from the Bingo). The Bingo has recovered somewhat but never will reach the levels of revenue that it once attained. The Board realized that heavy dependence on a single source of revenue, bingo, was not good for the long term health of the AEF. A sustained effort to increase broad general awareness of the AEF within the public was begun. That awareness program has resulted in a substantial increase in giving to the AEF and consequent increase in funding of AEF giving programs. We now are able to flow from $65,000 to $100,000 annually depending on need.
It will always be through dedicated, concerned, and active programs such as described within this site that the AEF will be able to attain its goal of supporting those in need in our community.