Mediation Center Observes Conflict Resolution Month

Staff Report From Savannah CEO

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

The Mediation Center of the Coastal Empire has announced exciting plans to observe Conflict Resolution Month throughout the month of October. This special month stems from the efforts of many other national, state, and local organizations – including the Association for Conflict Resolution – which have been celebrating conflict resolution during the month of October for years.

This is the first year the Mediation Center is undertaking a series of special initiatives to coincide with this national annual initiative. This Savannah based non-profit organization has been cutting the emotional and financial costs of disputes for thousands of people throughout the region, will commemorate this observance with a series of events and initiatives throughout October.

The month gets under way with the announcement of a collaboration between the Mediation Center and Chatham County Juvenile Court, for the Mediation Center to provide Community Conferencing.

Community Conferencing provides a meaningful community-based response to juvenile crime by empowering the community of people affected by the incident. Young people accused of delinquent offenses have the opportunity to take responsibility for the harm they caused, those affected by the harm play a role in deciding accountability, and residents feel safer in their communities. The Mediation Center provides conference facilitators trained to facilitate challenging conversations and the program is managed by Crystal Commodore, Youth Programs Director of the Mediation Center.

Juvenile Court Presiding Chief Judge LeRoy Burke III, who helped facilitate the system’s utilization of Community Conferencing, is eager for the partnership to yield positive results.

On Monday, Oct. 9, Mediation Center Executive Director Jill Cheeks will continue the monthlong commemoration by speaking at Armstrong State University on the topic of conflict resolution. This training will be conducted in an organizational communication graduate class.

“College is a time of growth and development to prepare students for future job opportunities. Preparing students to manage difficult situations sets the students up for success personally and professionally,” Cheeks said. “We’ll address common causes of conflict and learn strategies mediators use to support parties in dispute.”

To round out the celebration of October as Conflict Resolution Month, the Mediation Center is joining forces with Greenbriar Children’s Center to make the Children of Peaceful Engagement program available to Greenbriar’s residents and clients.

The COPE program teaches children who are going through stressful situations how to better cope with their anger and other emotions and manage their response using proven engagement strategies that focus on understanding and emotional learning. Attendees are school-age children and the delivery method is customized to fit the schedule of the organization.

Greenbriar promotes the healthy development of children and the strengthening of families through an array of services, including emergency shelter, responding to youth who are homeless or have run away, residential care, independent living, family preservation programs, and early childhood education and care. Greenbriar, a Savannah-based nonprofit, also facilitates Savannah’s Project Safe Place program, which provides access to immediate help and supportive resources for youth in need.

Lee Robbins, Programs Director at the Mediation Center, launched COPE earlier this summer. Robbins and his colleague, Crystal Commodore, the Mediation Center's Youth Programs Director, will implement COPE at Greenbriar, focusing on residents ages 12-17.

Cheeks encourages community members, clients, supporters and potential volunteers to learn more about the Mediation Center’s services and resources in October and throughout the year by visiting or by calling 912-354-6686 to schedule an appointment.

“Celebrating October as Conflict Resolution Month is a great opportunity for us to showcase our offerings to community members who may not be familiar with the Mediation Center’s mission and history,” Cheeks said. “We hope to generate new interest in our volunteer opportunities and increase engagement across the board. The Mediation Center has many valuable resources and we want area residents to know and use what’s available to them.”