Op-Ed

Center offers dispute resolution

Participant offers a comment at the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center’s Youth Program booth at a community outreach event at Birchwood Elementary School.
Participant offers a comment at the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center’s Youth Program booth at a community outreach event at Birchwood Elementary School. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center was established in 1992 and had about 100 volunteers in 2015.

Purpose: Our mission is to provide and promote constructive and collaborative approaches to conflict through mediation, training, facilitation and community education.

Recognizing conflict is a natural part of life and sometimes people need support. The Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center provides mediation, facilitation and coaching services. Mediation empowers clients to reach mutually beneficial, lasting solutions through conversations guided by professional mediators.

Seeking to build community capacity to manage conflict and minimize its occurrence in their lives, the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center provides training and community education. Classes are offered for adults to build their conflict, communication, or mediation skills. Youth classes support young people to build healthy relationships and resolve conflict without aggression through free workshops in schools, organizations, and the juvenile justice system.

While conflict continues to permeate our community, the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center envisions a community in which people approach conflict in creative and healthy ways.

Volunteer highlights: Leveraging volunteer support is critical, enabling us to manage costs while maximizing available human resources to meet the community’s needs. Our programs are dependent upon collaborative efforts of a robust volunteer pool of board members, professional mediators, practicum students and administrative volunteers.

“Interning with the WDRC has been significant to my professional and personal development. I had the opportunity to take their Understanding Conflict Workshop, which allowed me to see WDRC’s mission at work, while developing practical, necessary life skills.

“Utilizing my skills to complete outreach projects was fulfilling, as I always saw the impact of my work. With a collaborative atmosphere and supportive culture, the WDRC works miracles in this community through their mediation and education programs. I am a proud volunteer of the WDRC. I can say with confidence that the skills I honed will stick with me throughout my professional life,” said Haley Herrin, a program outreach intern.

Signature fundraiser: 14th Annual Peace Builder Awards Gala, Nov. 18.

Wish list: $25-$99 helps support parents in learning to help children through family changes; $100-$249 helps neighbors resolve disputes without litigation; $250-$499 helps provide a family access to mediation services; $500-$999 helps provide workshops for youth to build conflict resolution skills8. Average number of volunteers last year (numbers only, i.e.; 75)

Current volunteer needs: Contact Leah at wdrc@whatcomdrc.org, 360-676-0122, or visit the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center at 13 Prospect St. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Volunteer application: whatcomdrc.org. Current volunteer openings include: board members. adult training assistant, administrative/executive assistant, youth program facilitators, outreach intern, mediators.

For more information, go online to whatcomdrc.org.

VOLUNTEER MONTH

April was National Volunteer Month and The Bellingham Herald has partnered with the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County to highlight local non-profit agencies that offer opportunities to become involved in our community. For more information online about the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County, go to whatcomvolunteer.org.

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