Friday, July 10, 2009
Can you believe the Community Mediation Center of Southeastern Virginia (CMC) has been educating and providing conflict resolution services to families, youth, individuals and the community for the past 19 years?
Last year brought new and unique opportunities for the CMC and, in many ways, it was one of the best years ever. New partnerships were formed, youth peer mediation programs were created and expanded, the CMC partnered in gang prevention and intervention programs and diversified both our training curriculum and customer base. We communicated our message via the radio, internet, blogs, television, newsletters and in person. Our staff delivered presentations and facilitated discussions to city groups, the business community, nonprofit organizations, professional and civic groups, families, courts, schools and colleges and universities. The community at large benefited from these activities. We continue to receive positive feedback. Over 90% of people who used mediation alone reported they would use it again and 85% of all mediations reached a agreement.
It is said that “one great, strong, unselfish soul in every community could redeem the world”. In our community, we are strengthened by many strong souls—our 13 talented staff members, over 60 dedicated volunteers and 18 motivated board members. This devoted group provides conflict resolution training and services, mediation, facilitation and arbitration services to virtually every part of our community. Last summer alone, this team trained over 300 students in conflict resolution skills.
In 2009, the CMC faces the same economic challenges as the nation. How do we do more... with potentially less resources? In their usual optimistic and creative style, the CMC staff views this as an opportunity to continuously improve the delivery of our products and services. We commit to increase our partnerships with other organizations, to offer new and expanded programs and to innovatively diversify our services while maintaining affordable pricing so that we can provide our services to all who desire them. We will continue our focus on youth...helping them resolve their own conflicts so they will not reach negative outcomes. We will help families live together peacefully and co-parent their children in a positive manner. We will increase conflict resolution training opportunities to our community. We are ready to resolve, reduce and prevent conflict.
I continue to applaud and admire the true commitment of the dedicated staff, volunteers, supporters, and our Board of Directors. Our entire community benefits when we all learn how to resolve conflict.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Holidays are supposed to be joyous times, with shopping, social gatherings and the anticipation of some time off to be with family and friends. But for parents going through a separation process, it can be a time of stress, anger and concern over finances and what will happen to their children.
I see it every fall as Thanksgiving apporaches and again during the Christmas/New Year's week. I have had more parents cry during meadions and parenting classes than at any other time of year. They are just overwhelmed by the emotional and financial stress and the idea they are supposed to be happy. I can relate to them because I got my GET OUT! papers the week before Christmas of 1986. I was stunned because I thought we had come to an agreement that nothing would happen until after the holidays. On Christmas Eve, I had dinner with a neighbor who also was going through the process. There was little joy at that table and neither one of us had much to say.
So this past holiday season, I was a little more patient with parents who suddenly became emotional during story-telling or when talking about their children. I offered a time-out and tried to say something to let them know I understood what they are experiencing. Any time of the year is a tough time to be going through a separation process, but the holidays, I think, are the hardest because parents are grieving at a time when it seems everyone around them is having a good time.
Monday, January 05, 2009
I love being a mentor-mediator.
A mentor-mediator is a Virginia Supreme Court certified mediator that has mediated for at least 2 years & gone through the recertification process at least once. Plus, mentors take special training to learn how to coach mediators-in-training through the sometimes difficult process of learning to mediate.
Of course I love to see my mentees do well. It’s like a baby learning to crawl & then walk. I feel like a proud parent. I’m so blessed to be a part of their certification journey, to make my mark.
But, the real reason I love to mentor is a selfish one. I love to talk about my craft. I could talk about the mediation process and techniques all day (if I didn’t have other stuff to do). Hearing war-stories and OMG moments, makes me appreciate mediation more and more. For me, being a mentor is not a job, its fun! Thinking of challenging scenarios, talking to myself about different ways to say certain things, replaying moments in my head, playing the “what if” game…
To me, the paperwork and extra training is worth it by far. It keeps me as sharp as ever - processing, thinking, learning…
Monday, December 15, 2008
Last week my friend called me looking for best friend advice about the best way to talk to her fiancé. After listening to her story, and paraphrasing what she said, I offered my secret tool…I-messages. I use I-messages with everyone- my parents, my brother, my boyfriend- and 9 times out of 10 it is very effective in getting my point across without being accusatory or hurtful.
I told my friend that I-messages are a great way of saying what you want to say without pointing the finger. She would be able to talk to her fiancé and he wouldn’t get upset. I told her about the secret formula: I feel ________ when ________ because _________ and I need __________. She really seemed like a natural...she practiced a few I-messages on me and got the courage to call her fiancé and test it out.
An hour later I got a phone call from my best friend… “Megan you’re a genius! It totally worked! I told him how I was feeling and he didn’t get frustrated or mad…he even agreed with me!” I told her I’m not a genius, I’m just in the field of conflict resolution and talking things out is what I know best. I was glad to share my secret tool with my best friend, and glad to hear that I-messages came to the rescue yet again! I feel great when I-messages help my friends because they mean so much to me and I need them to always be happy!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
Going to the chart
Sometimes, putting information on flip charts in mediation can dramatically shift the attention of the clients from each other to concentrating on the issues. I've been involved in three mediations where the technique worked to help clients focus on the work that needed to be done and not each other's history.
In one, two sisters were arguing over the care of their elderly mother. One sister thought the other, who was living with the mother, was not doing a good job and was gone for long periods of time, leaving their elderly parent alone. They kept repeating their history to each other and the issues between them, often talking at the same time. My co-mediator went to the chart and asked them if they wanted their mother to be healthy as long as possible. They agreed. Then they were asked if they wanted their mom to stay in her home as long as possible. They agreed. Already, two points of agreement were on the chart. The focus shifted to my co-mediator standing by the chart and the points of agreement on it. They stopped looking at and talking to each other and placed their attention on the chart. It wasn't long before they had worked out a schedule of who would care for their mom and when.
In another case, separating parents spent much of the fiirst part of the mediation blaming each other for the breakup. The discussion seemed to bog down, when my co-mediator went to the chart and listed five issues they had identified. My co-mediator then checked three points where they had come to an agreement. The co-mediator then praised the clients on coming to agreements on those points and noted there were only two more issues to discuss. Eventually, they came to an agreement on all the issues, largely because they could "see" progress in the discussion.
A third case involved a couple who had separated and were trying to untangle their joint finances and debt. Again they got into their personal history and issues with each other, until my co-mediator went to the chart and started listing dollar amounts. I'm not very good with numbers but even I could see they were only a couple of hundred dollars apart. Unfortunatly, they could not see it and continued to re-hash their history until she abruptly left the room.
It doesn't work all the time, but the chart is a useful tool to help crystalize the issues and track progress on them.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Why do you believe yourself to be suited for the teaching profession?
Recently, I had the privilege of going through the Old Dominion University Career Switcher program. Becoming a teacher was something I had contemplated but never thought I would do. Well, as they say never say never because you never know when never will come. I have been a substitute teacher on and off and working here at the Center for the last two years has helped me realize that I can do this as a career and hopefully be happy.
While filling out the application for Norfolk Public Schools the last question on the application read as follows: Why do you believe yourself to be suited for the teaching profession? My response below has been the same over the years and I am surprised that I have not detoured from my “philosophy or belief” when it comes to teaching. I believe that teaching takes passion and dedication.
Nevertheless, here is my response to the question above. I believe I am suited for the teaching profession because I enjoy helping to shape our future leaders. Gandhi stated that we must be the change that we want to see in the world. One of the ways that I can be a part of that change is through teaching and volunteering my time. I have volunteered my time in several diverse capacities over the years but the ones that stand out the most are the times I am training or facilitating youth programs. I have done several trainings on teaching youth how to deal with conflict or how to become a peer mediator in their schools. I enjoy working with young people because they keep me on top of my game and hold me to my personal belief of being the change I want to see in the world. I know I will not be able to have an impact on every student but I will make a difference in some of their lives and maybe even their parents as well. Therefore, I am suited for the teaching profession because I want to teach and want to make a difference in the future leaders of my children. I want to be the teacher that they will know I truly care about their future.