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.
Who qualifies for Assistance?
Any member of the Ashland community can qualify. Those receiving assistance are often our neighbors and friends.
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.
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.