Dr. Charlie Nelms

A series of events that begins on Sunday (November 11) will usher in the 40th anniversary celebration for Mission Possible: COSM, which provides counseling services for individuals and families of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds.

Founded by Thelma Nelson, Mission Possible: COSM (Christian Outreach Service Ministry) will host two events at renowned Downtown venues. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., a program honoring veterans and federal employees is set for Historic First Baptist Church, 379 Beale St. A second celebration begins at 2 p.m. at The Orpheum Theatre, 203 S. Main St.

Nationally acclaimed author and higher learning administrator, Dr. Charlie Nelms, will keynote both events. Dr. Nelms earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. He obtained his masters and doctorate degrees from Indiana University, with which he has nearly half a century of affiliation.

The cousin of Mission Possible: COSM Founder Thelma Nelms, Dr. Nelms was the first African American appointed chancellor of an IU campus and vice president of the University. In 2012, President Obama honored him with the MLK Drum Major for Service Award.

“My message will be one of hope,” said Dr. Nelms. “I will extol the power of education. Mama told me, ‘If you get a good education, no one can take it away.’ Education makes a positive impact on our lives and the lives of others. Education is transformative for individuals as well as the community.”

Taking note of what many perceive as a diminished value for education among younger generations, Nelms said, “We had the village when we were growing up. There was the church, our neighbors, there were our schools – black principals and teachers who nurtured the dreams of our generation. We lost the power of encouragement.

“We have let the television and technology raise our children. We have relied on others to do what we should have been doing. We stopped attending to the needs of each other.”

While some thought “integration would make us better,” said Nelms, “the only thing that made us better was ourselves. There was an extraordinarily high level of confidence placed in integration. We lost something all our own.”

He posed a rhetorical question: “Where do we go from here?”

“We must all get back to rebuilding the village. Parents work two and three jobs to give children things. But our children don’t need more things, they need our time. They need us.

“We must encourage our children to dream big. Motivate them. Teach them about the work ethic, and tell them to be persistent and don’t give up. We’ve had some setbacks, yes. Now, let us get ready for the comeback.”

Theme for the events is “Promoting Kindness: Combating Anger.”

(An RSVP is requested for the upcoming events. For reservations or more information, call 901-458-4357. The Combined Federal Campaign/United Way Donor Choice Program is the major vehicle of support for Mission Possible: COSM. Since it is not a United Way Agency, the nonprofit only receives funds designated to the organization based on its 501 (c) 3 status.)