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Nonprofit View: Mediation center offers alternative to conflict resolution

"I wish we had known about mediation before we went to court;" "I wish we had just communicated with each other." These are just a few comments the Carroll County Community Mediation Center (CCCMC) hears from people after they have participated in mediation to resolve their disputes. Too often, our first response to a conflict situation is to call the police, humane society, zoning office, the court or any number of agencies who may intervene on our behalf, many times without ever speaking with the other people in the conflict to make them aware of our concerns or the problem.

The CCCMC encourages people to use mediation for many types of situations. As an example, one family used mediation to prevent future conflict when their son was starting his first semester at Carroll Community College. Acknowledging college life was going to be very different from high school for everyone, this family had a chance to outline all of their expectations about financial responsibilities, transportation, academic performance, work load and social outings. Community members have also used the mediation center to address disputes between siblings; care of an aging parent; disputes over custody and visitation; neighbor-neighbor conflicts landlord/tenant disputes; conflicts between co-workers, businesses and consumers; to repair relationships; to prepare for returning to the community after incarceration, rehabilitation and military service.

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The CCCMC operates under the auspices of Carroll Community College to provide a continuum of conflict resolution services to the college and county communities at no cost to participants. The mediation center is committed to removing barriers to utilize alternative dispute processes by scheduling appointments at convenient times and locations all over Carroll County. As a community-based mediation center our conflict management coaching, mediation and facilitation services are provided by professionally trained coaches, mediators and facilitators who volunteer their time so disputes can be resolved by the community in the community where they occur.

Community partners such as the Carroll County Library, Bureau on Aging and Disabilities, Human Services Programs, Carroll County Public Schools, Carroll Community College, Department of Social Services, Youth Services Bureau, law enforcement agencies, State's Attorney's Office, courts and many non-profit organizations support the center's efforts by providing space for mediations and referring community members for services.

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For more information on how you can volunteer or partner with the CCCMC contact us at 410-848-1764 or CCCMC@carrollcc.edu or stop in our office at the Carroll Nonprofit Center, 255 Clifton Boulevard, Suite 311, Westminster, MD 21157.

Thursday, Oct. 20, is Conflict Resolution Day. This is a yearly celebration to increase awareness of peaceful, non-violent conflict resolution processes, such as mediation, facilitation and conflict management coaching. Hopefully, this article, the center's on-going outreach efforts, community partners and past mediation participants will aid in increasing Carroll County's awareness and use of accessible conflict resolution processes to increase the peace in our community.

Patricia Ryan is the director of the Carroll County Community Mediation Center. Reach her at pryan@carrollcc.edu.

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