In 1991, the second year Joe Eblen had organized a golf tournament to benefit cystic-fibrosis research, he got wind of a father in crisis. The father’s daughter, a cystic-fibrosis patient, needed urgent treatment at Duke University Hospital, but he had no money to take her. Because he had insurance, he was denied any assistance, despite his financial struggles. In his desperation, he contacted Joe’s tournament organizers, who informed him that they only raised money for research. Joe knew the father needed help now, and paid the family's expenses out of his own pocket.
Recognizing an unaddressed need to aid struggling local families, Eblen organized a garage sale, raised $400, and founded Eblen Charities. The organization started out assisting 300 families and has grown rapidly to serve thousands of families across the state with more than 70 programs. It provides assistance with medical bills, energy costs, and housing aid for families experiencing crises. Eblen Charities also ensures students and teachers have enough food and supplies, and provides grants to families in immediate need.