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The Lowell Sun Features ACCL's 6th Anniversary!


By AARON CURTIS | acurtis@lowellsun.com | Lowell Sun November 6, 2022 at 10:30 a.m. LOWELL — When the African Community Center of Lowell launched in 2016, Gordon Halm, the nonprofit’s founder and executive director, recalls questioning the organization’s ability to survive long term. It’s a surprising sentiment coming from Halm — a man who radiates optimism — but he pointed out the question for the ACCL has always been, “Where will the funding to support the nonprofit come from?” Despite the fact that the center remains in need of aid, the ACCL reached its sixth anniversary last month. On Saturday evening, the center celebrated the milestone at the First United Baptist Church, at 99 Church St., which the ACCL has called home since June. The spirited celebration included food, fundraising, music and plenty of dancing, as well as addresses from keynote speaker Noureddine Melikechi, the dean of the Kennedy College of Sciences at UMass Lowell, who was born in Algeria; a representative of U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan’s office; and state Rep. Vanna Howard. Sitting on a table during the event were pieces of ribbon from a ribbon-cutting ceremony held the day the ACCL officially opened on Oct. 29, 2016, as well a sign from that initial event stating the center’s mission to “promote responsible citizenship by improving the quality of life and supporting the achievement of African immigrants, refugees and other minorities and economically disadvantaged persons in Lowell through educational, social and cultural initiatives.” Also on the table was a flourishing potted plant, which Halm explained was given to the ACCL by a friend the day the center opened. Halm said he calls the plant “Hope.” “As you can see, it’s still alive,” Halm said about the plant. Halm founded the center after getting some office space in the Community Teamwork Inc. headquarters in Downtown Lowell. In June, the ACCL started renting a few rooms in the First United Baptist Church, which Halm said offers more space to gather and exchange ideas, as well as build a foundation for the next generation. The long-term goal remains, however, finding a permanent home for the ACCL, according to Halm. More space is needed for the center, which Halm said has big goals to expand its operations in the community. The goals include setting up programs offering computer literacy; African cultural tradition classes; college readiness and preparedness; mental health services; and cultural orientation to Greater Lowell for African immigrants, refugees and international students. “The center,” Halm said, “we are going to see what the next six years will bring.” For those interested in supporting the ACCL, visit acclowell.org. Also, a GoFundMe account has been set up in honor of the nonprofit’s sixth-year celebration. The organization set a goal of $25,000, with $2,300 raised as of Saturday night. Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis https://www.lowellsun.com/2022/11/06/african-community-center-of-lowell-celebrates-6th-anniversary/







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