Watch for the Flamingos!

by Janet M. Powers

Once the election is over, you may see something new popping up in Adams County yards. Mediation Services is launching a new fund raiser, involving a flock of 24 pink plastic flamingos. Once the initial flock has landed, it will split into four separate flocks of six flamingos each, which will be making their way around the county. One bird in each flock will be tagged with a note 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.”

Each flock will have a “tender” whose phone number will appear on the tag. Upon receiving a call, the flock tender will come to collect your contribution and remove the birds. Of course, MSAC will appreciate your suggestion as to where to send the birds next! Perhaps you have friends who would get a kick out of being “flocked.” We hope that those chosen to be “flocked” will be good sports about the sudden appearance of six pink flamingos in their yards, and also willing to help MSAC raise funds.

We expect flamingo flocking to continue through the summer months and to end for the 2009 season with the Heritage Festival in September. We will of course accept mail donations 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.

You may wonder why a non-profit organization which conducts mediations and conflict resolution workshops might need funding. Although MSAC is an all-volunteer organization, it has expenses like any other functioning office. We spend money on phone bills, printer ink, copying, computer paper, printing of brochures and business cards, booklets about Bullying, and workshop supplies. We are fortunate to get occasional donations from United Way (binders and a portable printer) and Gettysburg College (a laptop computer to use for mediations).

But our biggest need, one that we have not been able to fund through income from mediation services, is a part-time office employee who could serve as Outreach and Intake Coordinator and also assist with preparing workshop and training materials. Although we have applied for grants, we have been told that we must do fund-raising of our own to prove that we can sustain a program established with grant funding. Without a huge membership base, we must raise our funds in a way that is not labor-intensive. Ergo, the flamingos!

Perhaps you’re also asking yourself whether Mediation Services is a cause that deserves your hard-earned dollars? Mediation is a service whose time has come. With the economic downturn, community mediation cases are multiplying rapidly, not only here in Adams County, but across the nation. Mediation is an inexpensive way to resolve disputes with neighbors, family members, colleagues, and business owners. It helps to increase the peace in our communities by bettering ongoing relationships. Now isn’t that worth a flock of flamingos in your yard?

Janet M. Powers is Presiding Officer of MSAC and Professor Emerita at Gettysburg College.