The Eblen Charities is a non-profit organization whose outreach extends throughout the counties of western North Carolina and through its numerous programs has helped thousands upon thousand of families each year with medical and emergency assistance.
Founded in 1991 in Asheville, NC by Joe Eblen, President of the Biltmore Oil Company, the Eblen Charities has become one of North Carolina’s most innovative and effective social enterprises. Within its first decade, the Eblen Charities has grown from assisting 300 families with one program during its first year to assisting tens of thousands of families with more than 70 programs yearly throughout western North Carolina.
The work of Eblen Charities began with a golf tournament in 1990 to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis. After the second year of the tournament, a member of the golf committee received a phone call from a father who had a young daughter who had Cystic Fibrosis. He and his wife needed to take her to Duke University Hospital the following day and had no money to do so. He had called most of the large organizations in our area, but since he and his wife both worked and had insurance, they were denied any help.
Even though the parents were employed they still did not have the funds to make the trip and pay for the gas, food, and lodging they would need. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation was contacted and they explained that their funds were used for research. Upon explaining this to the father he said, “Research is important, but what do I do about tomorrow if I can’t take my daughter to the hospital?” Joe Eblen, through Biltmore Oil Company, had been sponsoring the tournament and when contacted, he paid for the family’s expenses out of his own pocket. Shortly thereafter, when meeting with the golf committee he questioned the wisdom of sending money away when there were families in need in our own community.
After researching many organizations in western North Carolina, and not finding one that would meet the needs of families regardless of income, he asked, “Why not just set up our own?”
From that a yard sale was held, $400 was raised, and Eblen Charities was created.