In May, a flock of pink flamingos lands unexpectedly on someone’s lawn in Adams County, and the Mediation Services fundraiser begins. Typically, it lasts until mid September when the flamingos make a final appearance at the Adams County Heritage Festival and then go south for the winter. Although no one reports a flamingo sighting to the Audubon Society, their appearance is crucial for MSAC.
Designing a unique fund-raiser in Adams County is a tall order! There are golf tournaments, dinners at Friendly’s or Hoss’s, and purse auctions. Outright solicitations, grant proposals and bake sales are all ways in which organizations in this small county raise funds. How does one come up with a signature event that will raise money for a non-profit organization that serves a public need?
Three years ago, recognizing that we’re not a member organization, we racked our brains to think of a fund-raiser that would not be labor-intensive but would supplement our mediation fees. Although our policy of keeping mediation fees deliberately low has been questioned, we believe it is helpful for people at all income levels, but especially those whose incomes are not huge, or who may have lost their jobs, to have a conflict resolution option that does not involve the courts.
Our fees are modest, on a sliding scale, according to income. For each mediation session of 2-3 hours, each party pays the following: income under $15,000 pays $ 5.00; $15,000-30,000 pays $10.00; 30,000-50,000 pays $15.00; over $50,000 pays $25.00. Sometimes non-profit organizations need our services. Small non-profits pay $20.00; large-nonprofits pay $30.00. Similarly, business enterprises pay $35 per session, while local government entities pay $35. It’s a bargain, however you look at it.
So where do the flamingos come in? By having a four-month fundraiser each year, we hope to raise funds that will enable us to fund a part-time position, that of outreach coordinator who can help to educate the public about MSAC services and the benefits of alternative conflict resolution. So the flamingos are accomplishing a good thing, even though they may not be the yard ornament of your dreams.
Should the flamingos land in your yard, you will be asked to make a small donation ($15 is suggested) to Mediation Services of Adams County in order to effect their removal. You will also be asked to recommend where they should land next – new landing sites are helpful! If you don’t want flamingos in your yard, it’s possible to buy flamingo insurance by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and a contribution to PO Box 4133, Gettysburg, PA 17325.
It is our hope that anyone who is “flocked” will be a good sport about the matter and cooperate with the intent of the project. Over the years, a few folks have objected by tried to capture the flamingos or becoming incensed at the birds. We hope that, rather than reacting that way, you’ll call our Information Line at 334-7312 and ask to have the birds removed. We’ll do our best to move the birds quickly. If you enjoy the birds, however, they can stay for only a week before moving on. The good thing about MSAC flamingos is that they don’t poop or lay eggs (except those that go with a dollar sign).
Janet M. Powers is Presiding Officer of Mediation Services of Adams County.