In Memoriam: Adrienne Harber


It is with great pleasure that I nominate Adrienne Harber for the 2010 Community Service Pacesetter Award.  As her son, I have watched with great pride as my Mother began setting the pace in Boulder over 40 years ago in what became a continuous effort to serve the greater community.  She has been an inspiration to hundreds of people and continues to be one today.  Her service to the Boulder Community has included all or parts of five decades --- culminating in a record of commitment which has had a tremendously positive impact on our many individuals and our entire community.

Ms. Harber arrived in Boulder as a single mother without a job and with two kids and a dog in tow during the summer of 1969.  Once she got her family settled in, she immediately began making a difference by using her background in Early Childhood Education helping Boulder County children in the Headstart program.  Outside of Headstart, she helped numerous families with advice and counsel for many years.

At the City of Boulder Housing Office, she worked diligently representing the needs and interests of low-income housing residents.  She became their voice and was respected throughout the City Administration for her advocacy of those less fortunate than many in our town.  While at the City, she took the lead on the development of programs which have made an extraordinary difference in our community --- with some of them continuing decades after she helped found them.  A sampling of these include Boulder County Dental Aid, the Institute on Law & Aging (in conjunction with the University of Colorado), Mothers Time Out, and the City of Boulder’s Tenants’ Representative Council.

After retiring from the City, she established her own businesses, including Boulder Tour Guides, which promoted visits and tourism in the greater Boulder area, and Native American Art, which promoted the works of unheralded Native American Artists.  She also was the Coordinator for the Friendship City Project and its focus on Jalapa, Nicaragua.  As part of the Project, she helped organize the first national Friendship City Conference, which, of course, she made sure was held in her hometown of Boulder.

Next she developed and designed the Share-A-Ride program for senior citizens in Boulder as part of the Boulder County Transportation Task Force.  Her work involved the City, the County, the Regional Transportation District, and many Boulder County communities who has unmet senior transportation needs (especially in rural and mountain areas).

At Front Range Community College, Ms. Harber became an Academic Adviser to hundreds of students and began a liaison effort for faculty members, students, and staff members to provide them with a range of needed academic materials.  For several years, she assisted a wide range of people and guided them in their studies, work, and life plans.  She was revered at Front Range by everyone there.

During much of the same time, Ms. Harber was a Program Developer and Coordinator at the Community Parenting Center.  She created numerous programs and workshops for families and had a special emphasis on the youngest members of the community.  Involved with outreach efforts, advocacy, volunteer coordination, and public relations as well as serving temporarily as the Director, she covered the gamut of responsibilities for the Center.

Without any fanfare or public announcement, in 1999 she used a significant portion of her own resources to establish The Friendship Foundation --- a tax-exempt, non-profit organization.  The Foundation has supported peace efforts in the Middle East by helping a wide variety of individuals and organizations who desperately needed resources to promote dialogue on the critical issues facing Israelis and Palestinians.  People across the country have lauded her for her efforts to bring people together and have appreciated the positive contribution she has made and is making to world peace.  She has operated the Foundation single-handedly for a decade and continues to dedicate an inordinate amount of time to its work and mission.

Today Ms. Harber remains active as a major participant and founder of Health Care For All Colorado, an organization seeking to educate citizens about health care options with the goal of ensuring that every Coloradan has adequate health care coverage and services.  With an emphasis on the need for a Single-Payer Health Care system, she has carried the message of reform far and wide throughout the State.

Ms. Harber also was a founder of and remains very active in the Middle East Study Group, a committee begun in 2007 as part of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (she has been a long-time member of WILPF) which, in turn was originally started in 1915 by Jane Adams.  The Middle East Study Group has sought to bring conflicting sides together in an effort to promote Middle East peace.

Not on any resume is her amazing commitment to personal action.  She has participated in more parades, marches, and demonstrations than any person I know.  She set a high standard for me when I was growing up and learned the importance of community action --- from helping those in need on a one-on-one basis to marching in solidarity with the likes of the Reverend Martin Luther King and thousands in the Civil Rights era.  What also has been impressive is her total lack of interest in being recognized or known for her work.  She has intentionally shied away from the limelight yet has never hesitated to speak out against injustice.

Ms. Harber also has always been active in her neighborhood community.  With a strong belief in the need to act locally, she has been involved in numerous causes to improve schools, parks, and facilities in her neighborhood and throughout Boulder.  Most of all, she always is there to lend a helping hand to her neighbors.  She initially resided in Martin Acres on South 46th Street in Table Mesa and moved to Edinboro Drive a year later --- where she has resided for almost four decades.  Her roots are as deep here as they can be and she always will be known as a Boulderite.  Unbeknownst to even many of her friend is her passion for photographing Boulder, as highlighted recently by her October showing at Café Sole in the Table Mesa Shopping Center.  Even her art focuses on the beauty which can be found in our community.

Whether it’s attending meetings, organizing conferences, meeting with state and federal representatives,  talking with citizens one-on-one, or lending a hand to someone in need, Ms. Harber has been a constant nonstop, albeit behind-the-scenes force in our community.  On a personal note, I cannot tell you how many times people in Boulder and across the State, after learning my last name, have asked me if I am related to Adrienne Harber.  I’m always proud to say “Yes, she’s my Mom.”

Ms. Harber also has been a model of charity but few actually have seen how much she has done for others.  I cannot tell you how many times she has offered her home to someone in distress who needed a place to stay or how she helped someone with a small financial gift which was enough for him or her to “get over the hump” on a bad day or during a particular crisis.  While these acts were not recorded in the minutes of any organization, I know they are recorded in the being of our community.  They represent the loving, kind, concerned, and giving people who typify Boulder, Colorado.  Ms. Harber was and is an important part of that special fabric which makes Boulder unique.

Adrienne Harber has never sought the spotlight or asked to be recognized for her work.  She simply believes in the principle of helping those in need and doing all each of us can to make the world a better place.  I can only say I have been amazed at her nonstop efforts to help people in Boulder, in Colorado, and around the world --- all without ever seeking any recognition or credit.  While there are many people who are better known that Ms. Harber, as someone who knows the Boulder community very well, I can say I do not know of anyone who has been so devoted to Boulder and so dedicated to making a contribution to our community over such an extended period of time.  I hope you feel as I do that it is time our community recognize this extraordinary woman for the contributions she has made to all of us.  Thank you.

Aaron Harber  (303) 666-6161

2010 Community Service Pacesetter
Nomination Statement for Adrienne Harber