Who we are

Our story

The Ashland Emergency Fund (AEF) is Ashland's behind-the-scenes, private place to which those in need have been able to turn to for help. In our giving, it is all of us who receive.

The AEF is a charity providing financial assistance to recipients according to need, typically on a one-time basis. AEF support may continue until relevant assistance from state agencies is in place or until the crisis passes. Medical, heating, electric, rent, and food are among the expenses for which the AEF offers support. And, any Ashland resident can qualify: those receiving assistance are our neighbors and friends.

Since its founding, the charity has given approximately $1,000,000 to over 1,750 Ashland citizens. Many of our friends and neighbors have benefited directly from the existence of the AEF. 

100% of donations are distributed to those in need. The AEF is a genuine charity, all staff members are volunteers and there is no overhead or operating expenses. 

Our goals

Our history

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 35 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.

While the exact needs and situation of each person and family we assist are different, by far the most common need for assistance is with rent, childcare, and utilities. 

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 in the mid-1990's. Those increases in revenue directly resulted in more aggressive giving programs, and assistance rendered rose steadily over time from a base of about $25,000 to a high of approximately $65,000 in 2004. Unfortunately, revenues from bingo quickly declined from there until it was shut down about 10 years later. Along with it, the Giving Programs were reduced accordingly. The AEF Board realized that heavy dependence on a single source of revenue, bingo, had not been 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 have now been able to flow from $75,000 to $140,000 annually over the last 5 years, depending on needs. 

Our board

AEF board members and officers are 100% volunteers

No member receives any financial benefit from the AEF. 

The annual election of Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer was held on February 11th, 2024 as follows:


Board members sit on different committees that keep the fund running.

Payments must have approval of the Screening Committee, and payments can only be made by a Disbursement Committee member. No person is allowed to sit on both committees. For more details, please see the AEF Charter.

Board meeting

The Ashland Emergency Fund board meets on the second Thursday of the month via zoom from 7-8 pm.


You can read the AEF Charter here.

Meeting minutes

To request meeting minutes, send email to secretary@ashlandemergencyfund.org

Annual reports

To request annual reports for any time period, please contact us.