LAWTON – Each year, Southwest Oklahomans give of their time and talents to become volunteer mediators through the Early Settlement Mediation Program, a part of the Oklahoma Dispute Resolution System.
Local courts use program volunteers to assist parties with cases that are disputed on civil, family, and child guardianship dockets. Volunteers also help community members settle disputes that are not part of the court system.
“Mediation is an amazing tool that empowers individuals to settle disputes among themselves,” said Sarah Head, Director of the Early Settlement Mediation, Southwest Program. “Hearing the perspective of everyone involved in a conflict often allows for real, tangible solutions to be found.”
Locally, the Southwest program has continued to experience growth and change. In 2018, the program relocated from Mangum to Lawton to form a new partnership with Cameron University and to better serve those in its 12 county coverage area. Head states, “Our program is seeing tremendous growth. Since becoming director a little over a year ago, I have seen the numbers increase by over 100 referred cases.”
In order to keep up with the referrals from local courts and the community, the Southwest Program needs volunteers. A two-day training session for mediators has been scheduled for Thurs., Feb. 27 and Fri, Feb. 28 in Lawton. In exchange for the free training, volunteers are asked to complete 20 hours of volunteer time. Travel expenses for volunteers living 10 miles or more from the training site will be reimbursed.
Those interested in the training should contact the Early Settlement office at 580-581-5420, or email Head at firstname.lastname@example.org.