Mediation Center $10,000 Grant Check Presentation is Wednesday

Staff Report From Savannah CEO

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

The Mediation Center of the Coastal Empire has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Georgia Bar Foundation, Inc’s Fellows Program. The grant will contribute to funding vital programs provided by the Mediation Center’s Family Law Resource Center.

The Georgia Bar Foundation, Inc. is set up under the State Bar of Georgia to distribute grants for deserving, law-related entities, such as Georgia Legal Services, Atlanta Legal Aid Society and various other entities around the state, according to Savannah Attorney Patrick T. O’Connor of Oliver Maner LLP, who is the immediate past president of the State Bar of Georgia.

One of the programs within the Foundation is the Fellows Program, which provides support to local legal organizations, such as this new grant to the Mediation Center of the Coastal Empire. The Fellows Program receives all of its funds from lawyers who are invited to be members. The offer to be recognized as a Fellow of the Georgia Bar Foundation is a prestigious honor that is not extended lightly, said O’Connor, a former foundation board member. Fewer than three percent of Georgia’s lawyers are Fellows.

“It’s for lawyers who have been recognized as leaders in the profession, especially in the areas of bar programs that support indigent services. The contribution to become a Fellow is a minimum of $1,250, and the money goes back out in the form of grants as worthy opportunities arise,” O’Connor said. “It’s really for locally based legal organizations that are responsible when it comes to supporting the community.”

The Neighbor to Neighbor Mediation Center was incorporated Feb. 27, 1986. The corporation changed its name to The Mediation Center of the Coastal Empire, Inc. in September 2001. Over the past 30 years, the Mediation Center has trained hundreds of volunteer mediators, conducted over 10,000 mediations and facilitated nearly 7,000 settlements. The Center is located at 5105 Paulsen Street, Suite 125D in Savannah.

The Family Law Resource Center, which falls under the umbrella of the Mediation Center, offers forms, education and assistance to self-represented individuals who need help preparing for cases of divorce, legitimation, modification, child support, contempt or adult name change.

“The Mediation Center of the Coastal Empire is an excellent community resource for resolving citizen disputes and especially for those who cannot afford lawyers. The Georgia Bar Foundation is very pleased that it is able to assist the Mediation Center in its efforts to provide guidance and education to low-income and pro se litigants in this community,” O’Connor said.

Mediation Center Executive Director Jill Cheeks was elated to learn that the Family Law Resource Center is being rewarded for its efforts to provide assistance to area residents who otherwise might not have access to legal help. Since October 2015, the center has been serving self-represented citizens in Chatham County and surrounding counties, including Bryan, Effingham, Liberty, Tattnall and Bulloch.

The FLRC also has a section of the center devoted to resources for families in crisis and services available to low-income families. A frequently used section of the Center is the “Kids Corner” which provides snacks, drinks and a play area for children to use while their parents work on their documents.

“There’s a high demand for this service and, at this point in time, citizens are waiting a month for an appointment,” Cheeks said. “So, this grant provides us with needed equipment to help people closer to their true time of need. We’re eager to grow our services and continue making a difference in our clients’ quality of life by helping them initiate their cases and mediate their way to peaceful resolutions outside of a courtroom.”

O’Connor will present the grant check to Cheeks at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 9 during a brief ceremony at the Family Law Resource Center, 5105 Paulsen St., Suite 111A. A short reception with refreshments will follow the presentation, and the community is welcome to attend.