In Focus: Consider becoming a volunteer mediator

August 23, 2013 

The spirit of volunteerism is alive and well in America. The number of people who volunteer in this country is immense and the amount of services rendered is immeasurable.

Last year, 26.5 percent of Americans, or 64.5 million people, volunteered a average of 50 hours each through nonprofit and charitable organizations. Volunteers make a huge difference. But more volunteers are needed, and not all volunteer positions are the same.

The Dispute Resolution Center of Tri-Cities is a volunteer-driven service organization serving Benton and Franklin counties. For 14 years, the DRC has done much to relieve the load of the courts, and has helped people resolve conflict in their personal and professional lives.

We do this primarily through mediation, using the skills of trained and certified volunteer mediators. Conflict is everywhere, the demand for our services is growing, and the need for more mediators is acute.

There are a lot of places where one can go to be a volunteer. But the DRC offers a unique opportunity. Here are some of the reasons why: -- A mediator can make a real difference in the lives of people who are in crisis. Conflict exists in every realm of life, and along with it comes stress. A mediator has the opportunity to help people resolve conflicts and relieve stress without the process itself adding to the stress. Solving one problem, resolving one dispute, removing one source of stress in a person's life makes a real difference.

-- Being a volunteer mediator provides an opportunity to gain new knowledge and a new skill set, and the opportunity to actively and practically use those skills on a regular basis. It requires training (which we provide), it involves commitment, and it offers rewards beyond what many volunteer opportunities do.

-- It will change your life. I don’t make the claim lightly. Once you learn the effective communication, conflict management, and problem solving skills of a good mediator, you will never be the same. That’s why becoming a DRC mediator may be the best volunteer opportunity around.

For more information, go to the Dispute Resolution Center of Tri-Cities online at www.drctc.org or call us at 509-783-3325. The September mediator training class is now forming.

Paul Shelp is executive director of the Dispute Resolution Center of Tri-Cities.

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