Mid Shore Community Mediation Center celebrated three years of resolving conflicts peacefully at its 2008 Annual Meeting, held on Conflict Resolution Day, October 17. Approximately 25 volunteer mediators, staff and guests attended the event, held at Hospice House in Easton.
Executive Director Peter Taillie gave the group a “State of the Center” report, describing the impressive growth of the organization in its short lifetime. From about 40 mediations conducted during its first year of existence, Mid Shore Community Mediation Center is on track for more than 200 this year. “Every mediation is getting better,” he added.
That improvement is largely due to the efforts of the volunteer mediators. Taillie commended them for their commitment to continually upgrading their skills. The many types of specialty mediations offered by the Center require volunteers specifically trained in a variety of areas, including workplace mediations, elder issues and parent/teen conflicts.
“Our parent/teen program is probably the most well developed of any community mediation center in the state,” emphasized Taillie. “We have a unique model, using both adult and teen mediators for each session.”
As the Center’s scope has broadened, it has entered into an arrangement with Dorchester Countyschools to facilitate Individual Education Program meetings. It has begun conducting large group facilitations, such as assisting the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy and the Department of Natural Resources with an information exchange with the residents of Dorchester County. Taillie indicated that parenting plans are also currently a large part of its activity.
With the Mediation Center serving Caroline, Dorchester and Talbot Counties, its increased range of no-cost services to individuals and the community have brought challenges to the organization.
“The trick is balancing the increase in mediations with an increase in the number of mediators,” said Taillie. The organization currently has about 30 active trained mediators. It is seeking more individuals, both adults and teens, interested in being a part of this conflict resolution service freely available to all.
Board President Peter Rohman added that they are also looking for those who can think innovatively about coordinating the logistics of the process. “We have come a long way in three years,” he said, “and are doing a lot of things very well. But it can be a logistical nightmare sometimes.”
Some mediations may require staff to juggle half a dozen different schedules of both mediators and clients to set up a mediation session. In addition, an attempt is made to match mediators with the parties to the conflict so that each side feels comfortable that his or her interests are being represented as they work out a mutually agreeable resolution.
The uncertain economy makes this cost-free alternative to the legal system a valuable resource for individuals in the community. However, it also strains the nonprofit organization as it works to meet financially the increased demand for its services. Even with its dependence on volunteer mediators, administrative costs have increased with growth and Rohman welcomed those who can help both financially and with ideas for funding.
The meeting concluded with Administrative Assistant Nida Christianson awarding certificates of appreciation to the mediators present. Peter Rohman thanked all the volunteers and staff for their efforts in making 2008 another successful year for Mid Shore Community Mediation Center.
For more information on mediation, to make a contribution, or to volunteer as a mediator, call Mid ShoreCommunity Mediation Center at 410-820-5553 or visit www.midshoremediation.org.