As I write, the Mediation Services flamingos are still making their way around Adams County. Soon though, they will begin their winter migration to points south after making a final appearance at the Adams County Heritage Festival on September 19. Although our organization had only two flocks in motion this summer, our modest fund raising efforts have been successful.
The fund-raising scene in Adams County is a tough one, due to a large number of organizations vying for the same pool of dollars. Successful fund-raising requires committed Board Members, a large group of member volunteers, and a highly visible community profile. While MSAC has some of those attributes, we are not a membership organization. Rather, we have a corps of dedicated volunteer mediators who have trained at their own expense in the belief that there must be a better way to solve conflicts.
With small manpower, we settled on the flamingo project, knowing that some people might not appreciate the sudden appearance of six pink birds in their yards, while others might not be able to afford to donate. Fortunately, most folks have accepted their “flocking” in a graceful spirit, although we do apologize to those who were offended by MSAC flamingos or were unable to donate. Many of those flocked enjoyed sending the flamingos on to friends, thus helping to choose where the birds could go.
In some cases, the birds spent extra time in yards or garages while their owners were on vacation. Although we try to avoid that happening, it occurred more than once and we apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused. Keeping the birds moving is in our interest, so birds that sit too long are a loss to MSAC also. We have tried not to flock anyone two years in a row, but that also happened to two “flockees,” both of whom anted up generously once again.
For those who support the work of MSAC and were not flocked this year, we welcome any and all contributions to our non-profit (501(c)3) organization. Donations may be sent to Mediation Services of Adams County, PO Box 4113, Gettysburg, PA 17325. With a tiny budget and no office, we continue to maintain a viable community mediation program which offers low-cost ($5-$35 per party per session) facilitated conflict resolution, as well as valuable training in communication and conflict resolution skills.
Our main endeavor is to put the tools of negotiation and mediation into the hands of local individuals and thus to increase opportunities for peaceful co-existence in the communities of Adams County. Someday, the State of Pennsylvania may have mandated alternative dispute resolution, as many states (including Maryland) already do. When that day comes, we may have a formal community mediation center in Adams County which will handle all small claims, neighbor conflicts and family disputes.
Until that day, we at MSAC will continue to offer services and to educate the community about ways of solving conflicts so that both disputants are winners. For more information about who we are and what we do, check out our website at www.mediateadams.org or call our Help Line at 717-334-7312.
Janet M. Powers is MSAC Presiding Officer and Trainer and Professor Emerita at Gettysburg College.