Dispute Settlement Center looks for more mediation volunteers in Polk County

Published 1:26 pm Friday, June 26, 2009

Polk County residents interested in making a difference in their community by becoming volunteer mediators now have that opportunity.&bsp; &bsp;

The&bsp; Dispute Settlement Center of Henderson and Polk counties is holding a three-day workshop to train new mediators in Polk County. &bsp;

The situations mediated are community based disputes.&bsp; Some situations that might be suitable for mediation include disputes between a landlord and tenant, neighbors, a business owner and customer, a property owner and trespasser, family members or friends. &bsp;

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&dquo;Most mediators leave each mediation feeling as though they have made a difference in someone&squo;s life&dquo;, says Interim DSC Director Jan Woloson.&bsp;&bsp;&bsp; &dquo;Our volunteers also tell me that they learn something each time they mediate.&bsp; Mediation skills are something they can use in their own lives as well as in their volunteer work.&dquo;

In Polk County, nearly all mediations are referrals from the court system.&bsp; In a few cases, individuals request mediation before taking an issue to court, and pay a small fee for the mediation.

The training will be held on July 30, 31, and August 1, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.&bsp; Participants must attend all three days.&bsp; Those interested should contact the DSC at (828)697-7055 or disputesettlement@att.net.

Volunteer mediators will also do several practice mediations with feedback before actually mediating.&bsp; New mediators are then paired with experienced mediators for the first six months or so.&bsp; &bsp;

When they are ready, new mediators join the general pool of mediators.&bsp; All mediations are done by a team of two people, usually one male and one female. &bsp;

Mediations are generally scheduled Monday through Thursday in the early evening, for up to two hours, with some mediations taking less time. &bsp;

Mediators are asked to commit to two mediations a month, and attend quarterly in-service programs.&bsp; Every effort is made to schedule the availability of mediators to accommodate the busy lives of many volunteers.