Hagar Services Coalition, Inc.’s was founded in 1994 by Rose Jacobs Gibson as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to plan and implement programs designed to restore, rebuild and renew families and community.
The inspiration to create Hagar Services Coalition, Inc. nonprofit came from the “kitchen table discussions” between the late Mrs. Vivian Gibbons, a retired educator, and Ms. Rose Jacobs Gibson who were members of the same church. Mrs. Gibbons in her wisdom determined that Ms. Jacobs Gibson was a problem solver and very committed to making a difference and recommended the establishment of a non-profit organization to respond to pressing unmet community needs.
Ms. Jacobs Gibson had been elected to the East Palo Alto City Council during a time the city was faced with challenges of the 90’s, that included a surge in homicides and drug activity.
The discussions were about the challenges of learning about government, community and making very deliberate policy decisions to move the City forward while still seeking solutions to the myriad social issues.
As a single mother, Ms. Jacobs Gibson shared her personal fears, empathy and hopes for those raising young men and wanted to be supportive to both the young men and their mothers.
“Hagar” was selected as the name of the organization to recognize the first single mother with a son in the bible who overcame many obstacles and represented strong women who, with their son, thrived despite adverse circumstances.
The following innovative programs were developed during Hagar’s early years as a vital community-based organization:
The “Black Diamond” Project – 1994-2001
A ten-week program of self-discovery that helps adolescents answer the age-old question: “Who am I?” A curriculum was developed to engage boys and girls who might otherwise have had little chance of earning their high school diploma. Guest speakers from the business/professional community gave presentations and serve as role models at each session.
Hagar Women’s Center – 1996-2001
In 1996, the Hagar Women’s Center was established to provide services to enhance and encourage healthy and holistic lifestyles for all women in the East Palo Alto community, with special emphasis on single women raising sons. Program areas included monthly forums and activities on health, life skills, economic self-sufficiency, entrepreneurship and financial management.
A women’s investment club named “Her Investment Portfolio (HIP)” evolved from Hagar’s Monthly Forum and is still active after nearly 20 years. The Center provided supervised internships to Stanford University and UC Berkeley students seeking research and community service assignments aligned with their educational goals. The Center remained active through 2001.
Riding the Winds of Change
Ms. Jacobs Gibson answered another calling in 1999 when she accepted the appointment to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. During her 14 years of service as a supervisor, Rose focused on serving community needs with integrity, respect, and responsiveness. Rose worked tirelessly to help East Palo Alto recover from its former reputation as the “murder capital (per capita) of the nation.”
After concluding her service on the Board, Rose determined that Hagar Services Coalition, Inc. is still relevant in today’s world where leadership, community succession planning and change are needed in the community. Ms. Jacobs Gibson revitalized Hagar in 2015 with a new and broader vision for services in the East Palo Alto and neighboring communities. Under her leadership and loyalty to her community, Rose worked tirelessly to provide resources, and to develop meaningful and lasting countywide relationships that benefits the city.
History Still in the Making — Hagar Today
Hagar Services Coalition, Inc. has changed with the times with a sharp focus on addressing a critical need to create a nurturing environment where new and emerging leaders can find their voice and create positive changes and solutions for their communities. Hagar provides learning opportunities for new leaders to provide fresh perspectives and bold new strategies that address the challenges we face locally, nationally and internationally. Click here for a list of Hagar’s current programs.