Hang around the Carlsbad Boys & Girls Club long enough, and the impossible seems possible.
“I never dreamed in a million years,” Greg Nelson said, “that Chad would be the club’s CEO.”
Chad Nelson was recently introduced as the organization’s new head honcho. And yes, Chad is following in the footsteps of his father, Greg, in being its CEO.
“I wanted a bit of a change, a new chapter,” Chad said. “I wanted something more rewarding than chasing sales and chasing dollars.”
We’ll cut to the chase: Greg Nelson was the CEO from 1978 to ’80, and now it’s Chad’s chance to turn developing children into solid adults.
“We have a long history there,” Chad said. “My dad was dropped off there as a kid in the 1950s and moved his way up to CEO. I was always there as a kid, too.”
No kidding, the Carlsbad Boys & Girls Club is a gem. With locations in Carlsbad Village and Bressi Ranch, it serves more than 500 youngsters ages 6-17.
Countless youth have come of age there, where there’s always a welcome mat outside the door and a wide-open window into life’s possibilities.
No matter the members’ economic or social standing, the clubs are a haven where kids can be kids, including those seeking the right way.
“At the end of the day, it’s the chance to be able to mentor or influence a young child and that is priceless,” Chad said. “Sometimes at a young age, they are looking for someone to follow.”
If they get their marching orders from Chad, 49, they should consider themselves fortunate. This former San Diego State and Carlsbad High basketball player is high on energy and low on excuses. His get-it-done attitude will not only leak over to those with the innocence of a child but also to the adults looking to shape someone’s path.
Those lucky enough to watch Chad play recall that he never took a minute off on the court, and that’s true off it as well.
“He was such a winner as a basketball player because he always gave it his all,” Greg, 74, said. “His heart and will were always on display. He will take that to the organization as well.”
That support for our community’s youth is integral. So thankfully, Chad went from hawking medical equipment to support balky limbs to getting on his hands and knees in hoping to get his new gig.
That’s a bit of a stretch, but not much.
Greg, a longtime board member, recused himself from the selection committee. Although Greg had coached Chad at every level as a youngster, he was on his own this time.
“I really wanted this job,” Chad said. “Because I wanted to make a difference.”
The last names and the Nelsons’ goals are the same. Be there for youngsters and use recreation as a tool for a place to join others when not at home.
“I think oftentimes that people look at the Boys & Girls Club as a day-care center for after-school,” Chad said. “But there is so much more, with great programs and field trips. And if a kid just needs encouragement or a friend, they can just show up.”
If so, they’ll likely run into one of the Nelsons, and that includes Barbi Nelson, Chad’s mother and Greg’s wife. For 38 years, she ran the group’s gala, raising funds and awareness of the good vibes at both branches.
While Barbi has stepped down from her role, like all the Nelsons, she is always willing to step up to help kids.
That’s any kid, regardless of whether they can afford the membership fees. No one is turned away, with the club offering scholarships, love, and support.
The Nelsons aren’t alone in distributing pats on the backs. There’s also Abby Snyder and Nicole Bianchini, the Village and Bressi Ranch club directors, respectively.
It really does take a village to raise our youth and raise a toast to the Nelsons and crew for going the extra mile.
“We’re giving these kids,” Chad said, “a chance to make their dreams come true.”