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Beth McGrath, Donor

How a former instructor continues to feel the power of the Conflict Center

 

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.” 

 

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When conflict happens in the workplace or people experience inappropriate or difficult behavior at work, relationships are damaged and productivity often suffers.
 
Workplaces that embrace Restorative Practices have the potential to create a safer, happier and more effective workplace for everyone. Restorative Practices can be used within the workplace both as a preventative measure and to address conflict when it does arise, enabling teams and individuals to work well together.

Restorative Practices can be an effective way to resolve workplace conflict. It involves:
  • bringing together all those affected by conflict
  • providing a safe environment for the expression of perspective
  • allowing participants to come to a shared understanding
  • identifying creative ways to deal with conflict
  • providing opportunities to rebuild damaged relationships and strengthen teams 

Restorative approaches can also be used proactively within the workplace to build strong, positive relationships. Staff meetings, for example, can be focused on building relationships and based around a foundation of mutual respect.
 
To discuss opportunities to bring this training to your workplace or to customize this training to your organizations needs, please contact Jessica Sherwood at Jessica.Sherwood@conflictcenter.org or call 303.865.5624.
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