Lowell African Community Center Celebrates 6th Anniversary

LOWELL – When the Lowell African Community Center launched in 2016, Gordon Halm, the nonprofit’s founder and executive director, remembers questioning the organization’s ability to survive in the long term.

It’s a surprising sentiment coming from Halm – a man who radiates optimism – but he pointed out that the question for the ACCL has always been, “Where will the funding come from to support the nonprofit? “

Although the center still needs help, ACCL celebrated its sixth anniversary last month. On Saturday evening, the center celebrated the milestone at First United Baptist Church, 99 Church St., which the ACCL has called home since June.

The spirited celebration included food, fundraising, music and lots of dancing, as well as keynote addresses from Algerian-born keynote speaker Noureddine Melikechi, dean of Kennedy College of Sciences at UMass Lowell; a representative from the office of U.S. Representative Lori Trahan; and State Representative Vanna Howard.

Sitting on a table during the event were pieces of ribbon from a ribbon-cutting ceremony held on the official opening day of the ACCL on October 29, 2016, along with a sign from that initial event indicating the mission of the center to “promote responsible citizenship by improving the quality of life and support the success of African immigrants, refugees and other minorities and economically disadvantaged people in Lowell through educational, social and cultural initiatives.

Also on the table was a thriving potted plant, which Halm said had been donated to the ACCL by a friend the day the center opened. Halm said he called the factory “Hope”.

“As you can see, he’s still alive,” Halm said of the plant.

Halm founded the center after securing office space at Community Teamwork Inc.’s headquarters in downtown Lowell. In June, the ACCL began renting a few rooms in the First United Baptist Church, which Halm says provides more space to gather and exchange ideas, as well as lay the groundwork for the next generation.

The long-term goal, however, remains to find a permanent seat for the ACCL, according to Halm.

More space is needed for the center, which Halm says has big goals to expand its operations in the community. Goals include setting up computer literacy programs; African cultural tradition course; college preparation and preparation; mental health services; and cultural orientation to Greater Lowell for African immigrants, refugees and international students.

“The center,” Halm said, “we’ll see what the next six years bring.”

For those wishing to support the ACCL, visit accowell.org. Also, a GoFundMe account has been created in honor of of the sixth year of the non-profit association. The organization has set a goal of $25,000, of which $2,300 was raised Saturday night.

Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis

Jill E. Washington