Beth McGrath’s connection to The Conflict Center (TCC) began when she was a child, then grew stronger when she was a contract instructor in her thirties. Now, after 30 years and a move to the Western Slope of Colorado, the Conflict Center remains a powerful force in McGrath’s life.
“I will always be directly connected with The Conflict Center because it never leaves your heart, it never leaves your soul,” said McGrath, a professional development coordinator in Grand Junction and a Conflict Center donor for more than a decade.
McGrath’s introduction to The Conflict Center was unconventional. Family friend and Conflict Center founder Liz Loescher would sometimes practice curriculum and strategies with her own children and McGrath.
Loescher would ask: “How can we handle that conflict, how can we solve that?” said McGrath, who described herself as an angry child with struggles at home. “It meant the world to me to grow up with her family.”
After finishing graduate school in the early 2000s, McGrath began working with young people who were often homeless or who had other acute problems. She remembers telling Loescher that many of these kids were angry and didn’t have positive ways to deal with their strong emotions. It was then that Loescher suggested McGrath volunteer at the Conflict Center, teaching classes on addressing conflict and anger.
McGrath taught classes at TCC for more than a decade. She knew her students weren’t “bad kids,” but rather kids who were making bad choices, often because they never learned positive ways to handle conflict or never had anyone in their lives who could model those skills.
She remembers one teen, who had been beaten up on her way home from school. Her mother gave her a piece of chain and told her daughter that either she fought back or she couldn’t return home. “The mother told her daughter to go do this. She really didn’t have a choice,” said McGrath, who added that the girl did successfully complete her class.
What makes the Conflict Center so special, she said, is that it is a safe space for people like that teenager — a place where they can share the realities of their lives and learn skills and strategies with instructors who believe in them. “What if just once that they try something they learned at the Conflict Center and it keeps them out of trouble?” McGrath said. “Why wouldn’t you donate to a place that gives these kids these skills?”
McGrath continues to donate to The Conflict Center, despite her move to Grand Junction, because she believes the lessons taught and learned there extend far beyond the organization, the Denver metro area or even each student.“If we teach them those skills, then they teach them to their children and it keeps going on and on,” she said. “It really is an endless donation. It’s an amazing place to be a part of.”