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Jake hoffman

Tutor, Summer School Teacher

Jake graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois with a B.S. in chemistry; he also has a masters degree in Oceanography from Texas A&M University. He recently retired after teaching chemistry for 42 years at Lexington Christian Academy in Lexington, Massachusetts.  Jake is a long-time member of Eliot Presbyterian Church in Lowell. He is happy to serve as a tutor at the African Community Center, and hopes to work with youth and adults in all areas of math and science.

"I very much enjoyed working with the students at the ACCL summer school. I taught students about science. It was challenging to use basic words to describe complex ideas. We worked on vocabulary as we read and talked about measurement, electricity, magnets, and astronomy. We did hands-on activities such as testing conductivity of materials, building circuits with LEDs, and finally building a pinhole viewer for the upcoming solar eclipse. I enjoyed meeting students and watching them read and speak English with more confidence."

lori hoffman

Tutor, Summer School Teacher

Lori graduated from Calvin College in Michigan with a B.A. in English as well as secondary teaching certification. Her work experience includes four years of high-school teaching and 17 years at Community Newspaper Company, focusing on graphic design and copy editing. Recently she returned to teaching, as a special education tutor at Lexington Christian Academy.

Lori is a long-time member of Eliot Presbyterian Church in Lowell. She is delighted to serve as a tutor at the African Community Center, and hopes to work with youth and adults in English reading and writing.

"I am proud to have been part of the first year of the ACCL summer school. It was delightful to meet young people who are learning a new culture and language. They are bright and wonderful, and Lowell is a better place because they are here. In class I taught English, starting each time with conversation and then working on grammar, writing, and reading. On the last day each student wrote a paragraph about a place, including a topic sentence, facts to support their idea, and a conclusion. We tried to read an entire book during the summer school time, but we were not quite able to finish the books. At the closing ceremony the students will each receive a copy of the book so they can finish reading as their skills improve in the future."

Joan Abbot

Summer School Teacher

"Life has always been full of interesting opportunities. I had the pleasure of teaching elementary school for 25 years. I also took my deep love of animals and founded a small animal shelter, which I still run.  And I have had the good fortune to be able to travel to many places in the world. While helping people that I met on my travels, I began to wonder how I could assist people in the United States, who have made courageous journeys to begin life here. This desire brought me to Lowell where I discovered an amazing network of people and organizations working with the refugee, immigrant community. I continue to enjoy learning more about the people in this vibrant city. "

Elizabeth Williams

Summer School Volunteer

"Hi, my name is Elizabeth Williams and I am a competitive swimmer as well as a volunteer teacher at the ACC summer classes!  This past weekend I was in Ohio for a swim meet competing against the swim teams from around the country.  I have trained very hard and swim a personal best time in my 50 meter freestyle (my specialty) to qualify for this meet.  I swam a 27.10 sec race, and made the cut!  I travelled to Ohio with my team and coaches, swam really fast while I was there and had a wonderful time! "

Adjoa Adjepong

Summer School Volunteer

Adjoa is thirteen years old and recently completed Middle School at the Lowell Community Charter Public School. She will be entering high school as a Freshman at Lowell High School in the 2017-2018 school year. She enjoys helping the young Sunday school children at my church. She also loves to sing and is in the church choir.

"opportunity to work with the younger kids and my partner Lizzie. The students were always excited and came in with a smile on their faces even on a rainy day. It was fun and I learned something new everyday day while working with them. In the primary class, we mostly read story books together and worked on fun activities that benefitted all students and their academic levels. The kids were always thrilled when it came to play time because they enjoyed playing against each other in soccer matches. Each day we noticed that all students had improved in one way or the other, either they learned the name of a cool animal or a new word in English. The students also got along well and in the end of the summer program, it was like we had become one family. "

Rachael Otoo


My name is Rachael Otoo. I was born in Ghana, West Africa. My childhood in both Ghana and the U.S has shaped my mind of the world as a whole. I have had the opportunity to also meet with diverse group of people. My observation of the world, different communities and cultures have attributed to my understanding of the significance of unity, change and progress.


I am a firm believer in the power of unity and hard work within communities to contribute to progress and equal opportunities for all. It has been a privilege to work with a reputable non-profit organization, African Community Center of Lowell, that strives to support Africans immigrants and refugees in areas of education, community-building, peace advocacy and cultural heritage . My role at the center includes tutoring students on reading and writing. I also design and manage the organization's website. I coordinate with the director/founder to promote events by creating and designing flyers, newsletters, programs and brochures. I believe that our humanity is a tree that requires all of us to collectively nurture. 


In 2017, I attained my Master's degree in Peace & Conflict Resolution to gain more knowledge on ways to work within communities. I worked with Girls Inc non-profit organization to gain more experience. I am also a self-care writer with the mission to promote health, wellness, peace and social awareness on topics that influence our daily lives. I hope to bring my work in self-care to the center to start a conversation on wellness in all areas of life.



 I have done various outreach within the Lowell community on behalf of the center, to raise awareness on the work that the center does and the resources they provide. I talked to parents (through outreach) about the Summer School program that was being done by ACCL, and I helped register students (mostly immigrant and refugee kids). I.also assisted in data collections and entry. I also did an outreach in Lowell Community Health Center to promote the walkathon event that took place September, and to also signup people to become members of ACCL. I was also one of the facilitators during the summer school  program. I helped mostly with English classes and reading. With the help of another volunteer (Kripa), I was also able to teach the students about mediation skills using role plays I also assisted with the making of a survey with the help of other volunteers and Mr.Halm. The survey was carried out during the African Festival and it's still being done. I also participated in the walkathon in September and I was one of the the guest speakers at the cultural exchange night in November, which is a new event hosted by  ACCL. I also attend meetings with Mr.Halm and on behalf of the center (usually write the minutes) and give feedbacks on the meeting to the Executive Director. Also, I did a write up on the diplomatic visits to the center. when Hon. Kankam visited, one of the member's of parliament in Ghana Lastly, I also represented the center, as a volunteer for Lori Trahan's campaign (now congress woman-elect).

Nicolette Pinnock


Financial Aid Counselor

My name is Nicolette Pinnock. I was born in Jamaica, West Indies. I moved to the U.S. in 1995 at the age of 15. I attended Lowell High school and then moved on to UMASS Lowell where I earned my B.S.B.A with a concentration on Management Information Systems in 2001. I started my Financial Aid career as a Financial Aid Office Assistant in 1998 at Blaine Beauty Career School that was located on Central Street in Lowell.  In 2002 I moved to Boston to further my career in Financial Aid and to continue my education. I earned my Masters of Management Degree from Cambridge College in Boston in 2005. 

I love working in the financial aid field because I am making an impact on people’s lives. I enjoy meeting with families to guide them through the overwhelming financial aid process.  I also work with families to education them on budgeting wisely, investing, choosing affording schools, loan repayment and credit counseling. I moved back to Lowell in 2018 to be closer to family and also to serve this community. I look forward to bring a positive influence and change in the city of Lowell.

Cynthia Perrone


Senior Volunteer Specialist

It will be two years this coming March 2020 when I first met Gordon Halm. I was with a volunteer from my program. I was so delighted to meet Gordon and hear about the ACCL. My Son is mentally challenged. Throughout his life I have advocated for him and individuals with disabilities, also their families. I am a firm believer of helping and guiding those who have a tough time whether it is someone with a disability, or entering into the US. Gordon advocates for African refugees that need some assistance. He gives them the tools to navigate their way to becoming successful students which leads to long term employment. His organization's Summer School program teaches children and adults basic English and other studies. Gordon's shared a story of his family pets, Parsley, Peep and Yame, I though it was so touching, and inspired me and his future volunteer to write a children's novel about this fascinating story of determination and survival, along with family ties and true friends. So we began to write the book, Parsley's Big Adventure. We experienced  a few setbacks. Therefore it took some time, but so very worth the many hours of hard work put into writing this great children's book.


I am extremely proud of being a part of The African Community Center of Lowell, and hope Gordon's dream of his organization's future will continue to grow beyond his expectations.

Agatha Onyinyechukwu Adigwe

Agatha Onyinyechukwu Adigwe graduated with a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree (Social and Behavioral Sciences concentration) from the Department of Public Health, Zuckerburg College of Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Lowell. Agatha has always been interested in non-profit organizations and passionate about improving the social determinants of health of children and adolescents and so she has volunteered for such organizations like IWACHD and Sharing Life Africa back home in Nigeria. 

While getting her master’s at UMass Lowell she was an Office of Multicultural Affairs- UMass Lowell (OMA-UML) ambassador, a Student Alumni Ambassador, and a volunteer for the African Community Center Lowell (ACCL) summer school program.  Agatha likes to dance, travel, spend time with friends and family, and read for leisure.

Rhoda Kaddu

My name is Rhoda Kaddu and I was born in Uganda. I am a rising senior at Innovation Academy Charter School. I aspire to be a lawyer and work in foreign politics.  I was introduced to the African Community Center of Lowell through the internship program at my school. I always want to give back to my community. The ACCL has given me the opportunity to help my community and create an impact. I want to continue to use the nonprofit world to combat the injustices around me. 

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Karen Adwoa Pomaah Akwaboah

17 years ago my parents immigrated from Ghana all the way to the United States. A year later, I was born as Karen Adwoa Pomaah Akwaboah at Lowell General Hospital. Ever since I was a child, I watched both my parents work tirelessly to achieve their goals of becoming nurses at different medical facilities. They’re an inspiration to me and also were an influence when it came to deciding the career I wanted to pursue, becoming a doctor. I remember I would constantly play with medical toy sets pretending to give people “shots”, hitting knees with the little reflex hammer, and checking hearts with the stethoscope. I’m a very empathetic person and I knew that I wanted to do something that was based on caring for others and possibly even saving someone's life. This goal of mine requires hard work, determination, and dedication but I’m ready for it. When I was in middle school and discovered what grades were and what they accounted for, I soon turned into a straight A/A+ student. I still maintain the same grades and I’m currently going into my junior year at Tyngsborough High School where I plan on taking classes such as AP Chemistry, AP Biology, AP Language and Anatomy to kick start my knowledge for my future college major. Besides school life, I am the oldest of 4 children with 2 brothers and a sister. It was up to me to take care of my siblings at a very young age, especially while my parents were working. This taught me many things but most importantly I learned how to take charge and become a leader. At this summer program, I want to use this skill to not only guide the kids in the right direction but to teach them to use their voice especially in times like these.

Eunice Okyere

Eunice Okyere Is studying for a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA) with Finance as concentration at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Eunice had her undergraduate Studies in Banking and Finance from Pentecost University Ghana (West-Africa) and has always been interested in giving back to society and so passionate about the area of Finance, Marketing and Human Resource Management and has volunteered at the African Community Center of Lowell (ACCL). Eunice is married with 4 (four) children and has a foundation in Ghana called Hope 4 de Child Ghana affiliated to Grace Reign Incorporated.

Meeting with Gordon Has always been an inspiration to me because ACCL has got more to offer to our World. I am happy to be part of this great community to help raise awareness on the work that the center does and the resources available to the community.

Eunice Okyere loves to counsel, teach, read, travel and write.

Efua Bentsiwa Bainson

Efua earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Ashesi University in Ghana. While attending Ashesi, she co-foundered a non-profit preschool for underprivileged children in Berekuso. Upon graduation, she worked as a teaching assistant at Ashesi University for her national service. Efua then worked as a Technical Test Engineer for GetInnotized Limited.

She is currently a Software Engineer at Microsoft. She also volunteers for Microsoft TEALS where she teaches high school students computer science. Mentorship played a key role in her development and she’s delighted to serve as a mentor at African Community Center.

Sonia C. Asante

I am a seasoned Ghanaian banker with 15 years experience.  I have passion for building and inspiring high-performance teams. My specialty is in Sales & Marketing, Branch Management and Customer Service. I have a Masters degree in Marketing and Bachelor’s degree in Management Studies from Ghana. I came to the United States of America in 2020 to pursue further studies. In Ghana, I have affiliations with non- profit organizations that help orphans, needy children and children with autism. I enjoy taking care of kids. I love making kids comfortable around me to be able discuss their challenges and fears with me. I see myself as a role model to the youth. I am excited to work as a volunteer with ACCL to help mentor others.

Jon Bishop

Jon Bishop is a campus minister and teacher at Lowell Catholic. He is also a published writer and poet. His first book of poems was released in 2018. He is looking forward to tutor in English language.

Sarah Comtois

Sarah Comtois graduated from Saint Joseph's College of Maine in 2018 with a degree in Communications and Journalism. She worked with Gordon in the early years of the ACCL to help build the website and the primary brand of the organization. She also worked to help update the website in the early years. She is excited to see how far the organization has come since it's birth! Sarah now works in Portland, Maine as a broadcast television director. 

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Dr.Favorite iRADUKUNDA

Dr. Favorite Iradukunda is an Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research focuses on fostering health during pregnancy and motherhood for Black immigrant women who experience the intersection of home and host cultures, while reinforcing protective cultural practices and supporting the development of community-based, culturally appropriate interventions for health maintenance. Dr. Iradukunda received her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She holds a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Cape Town and a BSN from the University of Rwanda. She believes in the urgent need for transforming nursing education to address health disparities. 


Dr. Iradukunda’s work with the ACCL involves collaborating with the center on projects to improve health outcomes in the community. She is also interested in mentoring high school students and other community members interested in pursuing a career in healthcare or furthering their nursing education.

Celestina Livigha

Celestina Livigha is a professional teacher with 9 years of experience ,she teaches English as a foreign language in a  community ward school in Tanzania with students age range from 13-17 ,She volunteered as an instructor in the Access Micro scholarship program sponsored by Department of State from 2016-2018 which gave an opportunity  to be nominated to participate in Pan African Youth Leadership as a mentor in April cohort 1 in 2018 and get the chances to visits different places such as  Martin Luther King memorial ,CNN, in Georgia, Washington DC and attend the workshops at University of Texas.


Please click here to read more about Celestina's story.

Chi Anestin Lum

Chi Anestin Lum is a teacher of English and French as foreign languages with the Ministry of Secondary Education in Cameroon. She currently serves at Government Technical College, Ndimi situated some 180km away from the capital city of Cameroon.  Her hard work has earned her both national and international awards such her participation in the Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement program in Spring 2021; her designation as TransformELT`s Model Teacher, in 2020, which led to her contribution to the production of a video teacher training resource;  her selection as Master Trainer for British Council’s English Connects project in Cameroon since 2019 and her participation in the  Young African Leaders Initiative in 2018; amongst others.

Please click here to read more about Chi Anestin Lum's  story.

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