For Allan Tenney, a teacher at Valley Springs Middle School, Eblen Charities just happened.
About 10 years ago, Tenny’s wife, Eyrin, became ill and Tenny’s friends referred him to Eblen because they wanted to help, but were not sure how.
When Eyrin’s was referred to Cleveland, Ohio for assistance, Tenney knew he wouldn’t be able to leave his job in Asheville due to financial needs.
The principal at the time, Tom Keever, called Eblen even though Tenney was adamant about not needing help.
“My first reaction was, ‘I’m not poor, I’m not helpless. I can do this. I don’t need help,’” Tenney said.
But Tenny agreed to talk on the phone with Bill Murdock, Eblen’s executive director and co-founder, and explained his story.
Eblen was then able to provide him with money to stay in a hotel in Cleveland to be near his wife.
Now, the Tenney’s like to give back to Eblen as much as they can by volunteering. During October, they push the importance of the Eblen pumpkins to raise money for families in the community.
“I just fell in love with the charity and all that they do,” Tenney said.
Founded in 1991, Eblen Charities now provides assistance to over 140,000 families in six counties each year. In order to provide the assistance it does, they hold about 11 annual events, ranging from walks to golf tournaments.
During the month of October, companies like Outback Steakhouse and Ingles partner with Eblen and schools to sale paper pumpkins and during the holidays they hold the St. Nicholas project to collect toys and clothing to help ensure that families in need can also enjoy Christmas.
Eblen programs provide assistance with nearly everything, from medical requests to heating and electric. Companies like Duke Energy partner with Eblen to provide aid for families. The Eblen Center for Social Enterprise partners with schools in the area to ensure staff and students get what they need to carry out their school day.
“Eblen Charities reaches out to people for many different needs ranging from medical help, food, heating assistance, eyeglasses… pretty much anything people need,” Murdock said.
Joe Eblen stated the charity when a family reached out for help for their daughter who had cystic fibrosis. In 1990, a golf tournament began to help raise money for cystic fibrosis and Joe was on the committee. The next year a family with needs related to the disease reached out for help. Seeing the need in a direct way, Joe decided to found Eblen Charities. Within a decade, it has grown to help over 10,000 families through more than 70 programs.
While the basic needs of families in the community stay the same, Eblen is always open to help any way they can. When major unplanned events, including natural disasters, Eblen reaches out to help.
The charity continues to expand through the community in different ways to help as many people as possible.
“What we do at Eblen is simple; just be kind to folks,” Murdock said.