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<xTITLE>Giving Back</xTITLE>

Giving Back

by Phyllis Pollack
June 2011 Phyllis  Pollack

This week’s blog has absolutely nothing to do with mediation but in a very indirect way, has everything to do with conflict resolution. It is about a group of women who have taken it upon themselves to ease the conflicts created by bureaucracy; they take one week out of their own lives to build a house from start to finish in New Orleans for Katrina victims under the auspices of Habitat for Humanity.

Although I know only one or two of them, these ladies are my college sorority sisters who were seniors or then just recent graduates when I first started pledging Sigma Delta Tau Sorority (SDT) at H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College for Women at Tulane University in New Orleans in 1969.

After graduating college, I did not give SDT much thought until last fall when I bumped into a sorority sister at my husband’s fraternity reunion in New Orleans. She told me about these sisters and asked if I would be interested. I said “yes” and got on the e-mail list.

But I did not fully understand what their mission was all about or their commitment to it until I read the Reader’s Digest article (June-July 2011) that was just published about their extraordiness. They are truly awesome! (NewOrleans)

Twelve baby boomers who as college students at a private university were as far removed from the hard knocks of life as one can get, trade their “easy” lives for saws, hammers, drills, tape measures and the other tools of construction to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina obtain one of the most basic needs: shelter. Why? Because it is New Orleans and simply sending a charitable contribution was not enough.

The first house that they built in 2006 went to Kewanda Baxter, a single parent with three children. These ladies did not simply build the house and walk away. To the contrary, they wanted to meet Ms. Baxter and have been “there” for Ms. Baxter and her children ever since. They have provided Ms. Baxter and her family with both tangible and intangible support, helping her and her family put their lives back together after the devastation of Katrina. They are truly incredible!

Having lived ten (10) years in New Orleans, I understand their mindset and why my sorority sisters are doing what they are doing. I am proud to call them my sorority sisters and my “construction” hat is off to them! Next November, I plan to join them!

. . .Just something to think about!


Phyllis Pollack with PGP Mediation uses a facilitative, interest-based approach. Her preferred mediation style is facilitative in the belief that the best and most durable resolutions are those achieved by the parties themselves. The parties generally know the business issues and priorities, personalities and obstacles to a successful resolution as well as their own needs better than any mediator or arbitrator. She does not impose her views or make decisions for the parties. Rather, Phyllis assists the parties in creating options that meet the needs and desires of both sides.  When appropriate, visual aids are used in preparing discussions and illustrating possible solutions. On the other hand, she is not averse to being proactive and offering a generous dose of reality, particularly when the process may have stalled due to unrealistic expectations of attorney or client, a failure to focus on needs rather than demands, or when one or more parties need to be reminded of the potential consequences of their failure to reach an agreement.

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