Flamingos Wing Their Way Back

by Janet M. Powers

At this time of year mailboxes are bulging with donation requests from organizations, local, national and international. It’s impossible to fill all those requests, even with deserving causes. Add to that the fact that 2010 so far has been filled with disasters, and we’re only five months into the year! With the economy recovering all too slowly, agencies find it difficult to deliver human services adequately.

When representatives of Pennsylvania Community Mediation Centers met recently in Harrisburg, we attempted to answer the question, “How is your ship sailing in stormy weather?” The news from all over the state was disheartening: mediations are down and many centers have had to let go staff members. Yet we’re still committed to educating the public about alternative forms of dispute resolution.

Because Mediation Services of Adams County is an all-volunteer mediation program, we’re not in such dire straits as some. However, without ongoing contracts with townships, boroughs or police departments, as in other counties, we depend solely on donations, mediation fees, and training programs for our income. MSAC’s major costs include a dedicated telephone help line, a professionally-designed and maintained website, and what we most aspire to: a part-time outreach coordinator.

To help fund these continuing needs, we are once again sending our flamingo flocks to various parts of the county. Although they haven’t landed yet, two flocks have been sighted and are currently winging their way back from winter quarters. Flock tenders are on the alert, and lists of potential “flockees” are being prepared. Don’t be surprised if six pink flamingos suddenly appear in your yard!

Here’s how it works: one bird in each flock bears a tag reading, “You have been flocked. We would appreciate your contribution of $15 or more to have these birds removed or sent to a new location.” The phone number of the flock tender appears on the tag. Upon receiving a call, that person will come to collect your contribution and remove the birds.

Of course, MSAC appreciates your suggestion of where to send the birds next! Do you have friends who would get a kick out of being “flocked?” We hope that those blessed with birds will be good sports about the sudden appearance of flamingos in their yards. It’s not your usual fundraising appeal, but rather a unique way to seek donations. We will be grateful for any and all contributions to our 501(c) 3 organization.

Mail donations will be accepted from people who prefer not to be flocked (send to MSAC, Box 4113, Gettysburg, PA 17325). And should you want to “invite” a flock of flamingos to your yard, you may do so by calling the Mediation helpline at 717-334-7312. Call that number also to suggest a yard that might be “improved” by the brief appearance of six flamingos. Those flocked last year can help again by sending a 2010 tax-deductible donation.

Support of Mediation Services of Adams County makes possible low-cost, amicable resolution ($5-$35 per party per session) of disputes in the workplace, with neighbors, with family members and with vendors. For more information, go to our website www.mediateadams.org or contact our Intake Coordinator: mediationac@yahoo.com or 717-334-7312.

Janet M Powers is Presiding Officer of Mediation Services and Professor Emerita, Gettysburg College.