From the Lowell Sun:
Author: Kori Tuitt
LOWELL — When Gordon Halm reflects on the beginnings of the African Community Center of Lowell, he can’t help but think about two of his pet chickens, Peep and Parsley.
In 2016, Halm founded the center after getting some office space in the Community Teamwork Inc. headquarters in downtown Lowell.
At first, the space was only available for 16 hours per week. But on Jan. 29, Halm was scheduled to meet with the CEO of CTI.
That morning, Halm started his car and went back inside his home in Dracut, when he heard one of his chickens sounding frantic. Initially, he thought his dog, Gye Nyame, must have scared a chicken.
“I rushed out and came outside and saw chicken feathers everywhere on the floor,” Halm said. “When I lifted up my eyes, I saw that Parsley was taken by a hawk, a huge hawk.”
Halm tried to chase the Hawk, with no luck. He looked for Peep, who had a close relationship to Parsley. He found a scared Peep under the deck and brought her inside, but Parsley was nowhere to be found.
After that emotional morning, Halm arrived at CTI to get the promising news that the ACCL would be able to use their space for 40 hours per week. He was ecstatic — but still troubled that Parsley was gone. He called his wife, Beatrice Stevens, to share the heartbreaking news. She was distraught. So much so, she headed home from work early.
That afternoon, Halm received a call from his wife who said Parsley was at the house — and she had laid an egg. Despite being bruised, and many of her feathers removed from the encounter, she returned.
“I relate the 40 hours that was given to me by CTI that very same day to the egg that Parsley laid because Parsley went through a lot,” Halm said. “And that tells me about the frustrations, the distractions, the courage, the commitment that has been put into the center.”
Halm was telling the story of Parsley and the ACCL to a visitor as well as someone looking to volunteer with the center through CTI’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program. CTI’s Senior Corps Volunteer Specialist Cynthia Perrone was also there to hear the story. Perrone was so fascinated by the story, she suggested crafting it into a book based on Parsley. She is also one of two volunteers who have worked to write the story, which is called “Parsley’s Great Adventure.”
“It’s great for the community, this project,” Perrone said. “I think that the messages that we put in there for children, it’s all positive messages about family values, friendship, determination, courage. It just has areally good meaning.” They have launched a GoFundMe campaign with the goal of raising $5,000 for the final stages of publication. There are two versions of the book, one for students from kindergarten through second grade, and another for students in third to fifth grade. Book sale proceeds will benefit the ACCL.
Stevens said her husband is a great storyteller, so she was thrilled at the idea of creating children’s books. She said she hopes it will be a moving story for many about determination.
“If you are determined to do something or to be somewhere, you just put your focus into that and give your 100 percent into doing that, it will work out,” Stevens said. “We appreciate the volunteers taking their time and trying to make this happen for this to become a reality.”
Parsley passed away about eight months after her courageous ordeal with the hawk, and Stevens said the family misses her, but she lives on.“We learned a lot from these chickens as we relate to our life experiences and struggles,” Halm said. “We would like to share it with the world as to how we go through life, our challenges.”
To learn more about the book and the fundraising efforts, visit www.GoFundMe.com/insp ire-kids-amp-develop-communities.