by Kelsey Nelson

A father, a leader, a dreamer and an achiever. A man who allows himself to reach the unreachable, shake the unshakeable, and touch the untouchable. From you I have learned to accept, appreciate, and understand: to stand, to act, and to change. Joe Nelson, a man who believes his community is like a deck of playing cards. All the cards are significant in its own way just like how each citizen in the community is significant in their own way to their community. Without one card the deck is incomplete. A hero that believes “United we stand divided we fall.”

The son of an accountant, and a craftsman. The hope of a community. A man with a mission. An over comer and believer of better days. Joe Nelson, has witnessed the obstacles of a community in need. In Germantown, MD where not many have heard there’s a man with a voice. A voice for the people and of the people. A man who won’t stop till all is right. With kids on the street walking around with nothing to do. A community center sat with one stall restrooms. Undersized and underfinanced, Plum Gar Community Center sat. Young and old, black and white, kids came to Plum Gar as a safe place after school and during the summer hours to stay off the streets. No politicians looked Plum Gar’s way, as the repair’s needed inside of Plum Gar continued to grow. A gym with no bleachers. Inefficient lighting around the whole building, no sidewalks to walk on as kids came to the center from across the street. Understaffed and not enough space Plum Gar had to force students away. A director without an assistant, running the club all alone, difficulties to stay open became hard to bore.

While Martin Luther King Jr., is gone Joe Nelson will made sure that his dream continues to live on. He understands like Dr. King that “At the heart of all that civilization has meant and developed is 'community' – the mutually cooperative and voluntary venture of man to assume a semblance of responsibility for his brother, and that the time is always right to do what is right." Joe Nelson knows the time to make a difference is now. He wants today’s youth to be the resolution and not the problem.

A man that advocated the creation of sidewalks and light. House Bill 336, off to the Maryland legislature, thanks to the continuous efforts of my dad. A bill for renovations. A bill for change. A bill that will provide for more opportunities for the community. Plum Gar, a place to learn and grow. Plum Gar a place which will now be more suitable to go. A man who will continue his fight for positive change. A man who only wants to be remembered for lending a helping hand. A man who puts his community first for the advancement of his people, an activist who believes anything can become right.