The Scarborough Fire and Public Safety Departments are seeking the public’s help with donations to assist a longtime member of the department.

Joe Nelson, a longtime members at North Scarborough station and a former full-time public safety dispatcher, has been suffering from Scleroderma, a rare form of arthritis that causes the body to produce excess collagen causing joint pain and a hardening and thickening of the skin. Scleroderma is painful and incurable.

While Nelson was undergoing treatments for the scleroderma, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

“Chemotherapy and radiation have shrunk the cancer, and Joe’s attitude remains as positive as possible under the circumstances, but the cost of medical treatment and the fact that he can no longer work to provide for his family have made things very difficult financially,” said Fire Chief Michael Thurlow, a longtime friend of Nelson’s.

Despite his illnesses, Nelson worked up until last summer when he couldn’t physically do it any longer and he has been out of work now for almost six months. Nelson’s wife also had to stop working so she could care for him full time.

The Scarborough Public Safety Departments have established a couple of ways the community can help. All Scarborough fire stations will accept bottle donations on behalf of this family. Donations will be accepted throughout the month of January. All proceeds will go to the Nelson family.

The departments are also accepting cash and gift card donations that will be consolidated and presented to the family. Checks, gift cards, and any other form of assistance can be mailed to the Scarborough Fire, 246 Route 1, Scarborough, ME 04074.

“This isn’t something we do very often, but this particular family has done so much for our organizations over the years, we felt it was appropriate to ask our members and the community for some additional help to support Joe and his family during the holidays,” said Thurlow.

For more information, contact the Scarborough Fire Department at 883-4542 or 883-6361.

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