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Grayling Chamber Ambassador's Club Spotlight Member- Community Mediation Services

posted May 20, 2016, 8:36 AM by Annette Wells

Community Mediation Services is honored to be the
 Grayling Chambers Spotlight Member for May 2016


May 20, 2016- Thank you for featuring Community Mediation Services in the Chamber Newsletter and Website. I enjoyed spending the morning at Blarney Stone Broadcasting, 100.3 with Traci Cook, Executive Director of the Grayling Chamber:)

Vintage quilt WINNER, Valerie Loe announced by Community Mediation Services

posted Sep 22, 2015, 9:30 AM by Annette Wells

A beautifully "Tree of Life Quilt" was restored and quilted by Judi Doan and Bobbi Cornell. The Community Mediation Service's Board announced the winner of the 2015 Quilt Raffle on Wed, September 16th. We were delighted, to share that Valerie Loe of Gaylord had the winning ticket. She has been a longtime volunteer at the Otsego County United Way and was so excited to win the beautiful quilt.
Thank you to CMS Volunteers Bobbi Cornell and Judi Doan for restoring the vintage quilt and to all the volunteer mediators that sold tickets to support CMS. Huge Appreciation HUGS!

25 Years of Serving Michigan Residents- 2014 Annual Report

posted Mar 26, 2015, 1:16 PM by Annette Wells

25th Anniversary CDRP- 2015!!!

posted Feb 25, 2015, 9:30 AM by Annette Wells   [ updated Feb 25, 2015, 10:10 AM ]

Written by Doug Van Epps, Director Office of Dispute Resolution, State Court Administration

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the State Court Administrative Office's (SCAO) awarding grants to Community Dispute Resolution Program (CDRP) centers, and the 15th anniversary of the Michigan Supreme Court's adoption of court rules that established the framework for ADR practice in the trial courts. With the proliferation of courts now referring cases to CDRP centers and private mediators, it seems fitting to ask if ADR is still the “alternative” dispute resolution process in Michigan’s trial courts.
With the general civil trial rate now inching downward toward one percent of court filings, it might be most appropriate to altogether relegate the "Alternative" in ADR to the past; resolving disputes through mediation and other processes is now far more frequent than resolving disputes through bench and jury trials. Quite clearly, trials are now “alternative” to settlement in Michigan. “Dispute resolution” is the main business of Michigan’s courts.
The 18 CDRP centers annually help parties in over 7,500 disputes reach settlements, and more than 30,000 people use the centers’ services annually. While data on the extent to which private mediators similarly help parties reach agreements is unavailable, anecdotally, court staff report that increasing numbers of litigants are turning to mediation as a preferred means of resolving their case.
Mediation is now used in virtually all general civil and domestic relations case types, and through the CDRP centers, mediation is being used in:
 schools, to help resolve student conflicts that prevent suspensions and expulsions and reduce truancy, and to resolve disputes over special education services;
 child protection cases, to decrease the time children remain in an impermanent setting;
 divorce, to help parents resolve disputes related to raising their children; and
 prisons, to help reduce the number of in-prison infractions that lead to extended incarceration.
Many people and organizations deserve credit for the rapid growth of ADR practice in Michigan. Among them are members of the SCAO's early advisory committees that created the structure of the CDRP initiative, and the early mediators who took on the role of mediator trainers and mentors at a time when there were virtually no mediators in the state. Later task forces recommended court rules for general civil and
domestic relations actions, as well as for developing a domestic violence screening protocol that is widely considered the best domestic violence screening tool for mediators in the country.
The ADR Section of the Michigan State Bar has been at the forefront of promoting ADR best practices among attorneys and mediators, and the Michigan Judicial Institute has routinely provided judges with training opportunities to learn how ADR helps both parties in reaching early dispositions of their cases, and courts in helping them achieve performance objectives. All Michigan law schools now offer ADR courses and even 40-hour mediation training programs.
The pioneering champions of mediation who created local dispute resolution programs in the late 1980’s also deserve recognition. With few or no funds yet available, boards of directors at 12 locations across the state organized to form dispute resolution programs that became the first to be financially supported by the SCAO. The premise then, and remains today, that with the help of a mediator, many people in conflict could resolve their own problems to their mutual satisfaction.
There would be no community mediation, of course, without the volunteer mediators who have contributed so much time and effort to helping members of their own communities resolve their differences. The mediators, many of whom have served for a decade or more, deserve our most heartfelt gratitude.
What might the future hold for ADR? During this anniversary year, the SCAO will be convening a task force that will be charged with identifying lessons learned and best practices over the past quarter century, as well as identifying challenges that remain in expanding dispute resolution services. Most importantly, the task force will be invited to develop a future vision for the continued integration of ADR processes into judicial system services.
While courts will increasingly include mediation as part of parties’ experience in the judicial system, there is growing concern over the long term sustainability of community mediation. Because CDRP centers are supported by revenue from court filing fees, the more effective the centers are in helping parties resolve their dispute before filing a court case, the less funds are generated to support the program and the more CDRP. Centers and state government constituents will need to find new solutions to address declining funding levels if the statewide program is to be maintained and expanded.
The resolve of mediators 25 years ago to help their neighbors find solutions to their conflicts appears continually reinforced by their success in resolving increasingly complex cases. Conflict is inevitable; litigation is not. Hopefully, the next quarter century will bring even greater opportunity for Michigan citizens to discover that mediation can be a productive and economical way to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution for everyone.


Governor's Service Awards, June 30th, 2014

posted Jul 8, 2014, 9:48 AM by Annette Wells

"It was an honor to accept recognition on behalf of all the volunteer mediators for the Community Dispute Resolution Program which includes Community Mediation Services on Monday, June 20, 2014 at the 2014 Governor's Service Awards! 

Governor Snyder - 2014 Governor's Service Awards

In June, Gov. Rick Snyder announced the 40 finalists for the 2014 Governor's Service Awards. The finalists were selected from more than 160 individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations statewide for their commitment to volunteer service. The Community Dispute Resolution Program which includes Community Mediation Services was selected as a finalist!

“Michigan’s comeback relies on volunteers across the state making a difference in their communities and I’m pleased to honor those who have gone above and beyond in this effort,” said Snyder. “These 40 finalists exemplify what it means to get involved, do something and have a positive impact on our great state. I want to commend and thank them for their service.” 

The Governor’s Service Awards recipients were honored during a special ceremony titled "An Evening with the Stars" Monday, June 30 at the Gem Theatre in Detroit. During the ceremony, one overall winner in each category will be announced. The event also featured musical entertainment by Toppermost, a Beatles Tribute Band. 

The 40 outstanding volunteer finalists are being honored in one of eight different award categories that reflect the diverse nature of volunteers throughout Michigan. The award categories are: Governor George Romney Lifetime Achievement Award; Corporate Community Leader Award; Mentor of the Year Award; Volunteer of the Year Award; Senior Volunteer of the Year Award; Youth Volunteer of the Year Award; Outstanding National Service Program Award; and Outstanding Volunteer Program Award. 

The Governor's Service Awards ceremony is an annual statewide recognition event acknowledging the contributions made by Michigan volunteers. This celebration is made possible only through the generous contributions of its sponsors. To date those sponsors include: Ford Motor Company Fund, DTE Energy Foundation, Meijer, Comcast, Comer Holdings, Lear, Acheson Ventures, Consumers Energy, Council of Michigan Foundations, Jackson National, Michigan Nonprofit Association, Greenstone Farm Credit Services, MASCO and Quicken Loans/Rock Ventures. 

The event is coordinated by the Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC), the state’s lead agency on volunteerism. The MCSC strives to engage all Michigan residents in volunteerism to address critical community challenges. It is part of the Michigan Department of Human Services. 

Outstanding Volunteer Program Award
The extraordinary work volunteers accomplish in communities is often driven by an organization or club. This award acknowledges the importance this support can make in community life. The nominees in this category strive to make communities better places to live through a variety of activities or by focusing on one issue of primary importance in their community. Schools, faith-based organizations, national service programs, nonprofit organizations, and service clubs are potential nominees.

Recognized as a Finalist- The Community Dispute Resolution Program (CDRP) has been providing conflict resolution for 25 years through dedicated and well-trained volunteers. Eighteen CDRP Centers provide a non-adversarial option for disagreeing parties for whom formal litigation may be unnecessary, inappropriate or unaffordable. The program is based on voluntary participation with an emphasis on finding solutions where nobody loses. It results in resolutions of landlord-tenant disputes, neighbor arguments, small claims and personal disagreements. Since 1998, trained volunteer mediators have guided parties through the process to find win-win solutions. Mediators do not give advice, make suggestions or decide who is right and wrong. They simply help participants express themselves and work toward a solution. In 2012, more than 800 CDRP volunteers provided 17,641 hours of service to 36,715 individuals saving a total market value of $2,477,090.

The Outstanding Volunteer Program Awarded to Forgotten Harvest Volunteer Program of Detroit. This award acknowledges the importance an organization or club makes in community life. The Forgotten Harvest Volunteer Program is one of the largest food rescue organizations in the nation. The program rescued more than 45 million pounds of nutritious food last year. The group saves food that would otherwise go to waste from 455 retail grocers, farms, wholesale distributors, entertainment venues and others. The group then re-packs and re-distributes the food to 260 emergency food providers, homeless shelters and soup kitchens. A total of 16,000 volunteers donated 92,434 hours in 2013. Forgotten Harvest serves more than 715,000 people living in poverty in Metro Detroit. Last year, volunteers harvested 850,000 pounds of vegetables on 103 acres of farmland in Fenton. Forgotten Harvest provided 134,369 sack lunches through its Summer School Feeding Program. The group also provides programs such as Holiday Meal Assembly, Food Pantry Assistance and other special events and activities.

I was delighted to attend as the President of the Michigan Dispute Resolution Program Association with Doug VanEpps, the Director of the Office of Dispute Resolution Center of the Michigan Supreme Court, State Court Administrative Office, Jane Millar, Executive Director of the Charlevoix Center and Bonnie Hanes, Executive Director of the Oakland Center. The Gem Theater was amazing, the volunteers I met and organizations represented were inspiring making it a night to remember!!!

Class of 2014- 18 New General Civil Mediators

posted May 20, 2014, 9:20 AM by Annette Wells   [ updated May 20, 2014, 12:12 PM ]

Community Mediation Services is proud to announce that 18 individuals graduated the Art and Skill of Mediation the mediator General Civil Training that meets the Michigan Court Rule 2.411.

Please join us in welcoming them to our TEAM!

General Civil Mediator Training May 2014

posted Feb 25, 2014, 11:52 AM by Annette Wells   [ updated Feb 25, 2014, 12:09 PM ]

 We are delighted to share our upcoming General Civil Mediator Training.
 Join us this May for the 40-hour intensive and highly interactive training.

Gain the knowledge and skills to become a trained mediator. Help others resolve conflict personally and professionally. Learn and practice the mediation process.

An OUTSTANDING training for professional and personal development.

Please click on the flyer for more information or contact us today!

Volunteer Mediator Vera Middleton Recognized

posted Apr 16, 2013, 6:13 AM by Annette Wells

Alpena Community College student Vera Middleton was named to the All-Michigan Academic Team on March 12th!
Vera has volunteered throughout Community Mediation Service's 10 county coverage area for the last 5 years, as a facilitative mediator and recently accepted a position on our Board of Directors. She has mediated over 175 cases and has donated over 466 hours of time to help resolve issues through mediation. Vera is a very active and effective volunteer mediator with our center. She is committed to the mediation program and is always looking for opportunities to further her training and education. She is highly self-motivated and capable of achieving many goals not only on individual bases but while motivating and inspiring others around her.
Pleas join us in congratulating Vera in her outstanding achievement of being named to the All-Michigan Academic Team!

Volunteer Mediator Training AUGUST 2013

posted Apr 5, 2013, 12:21 PM by Annette Wells   [ updated May 1, 2013, 11:18 AM ]

Thank you to an approved grant from the Michigan State Court Administrative Office, we are offering a General Civil Mediator Training at a greatly reduced cost.
Our goal is to train more volunteer mediators in the communities we provide services in. This training is an incredible opportunity to enhance your communication skills for everyday, personal relationships and professional skills needed on the job.

If you can volunteer a little bit of your time, register today for a training that will be of benefit to you, your workplace and your family!

Register Today- class size is limited at this reduced rate, please contact us today to save your spot!

Child Protection Mediation Team Awarded

posted Oct 19, 2012, 10:54 AM by Annette Wells   [ updated Feb 1, 2013, 10:43 AM ]


Cheboygan County Child Protection Mediation Team awarded the Honorable Robert E. Weiss Award for Excellence in Working as a Team

Jackson, Michigan -September 27, 2012

The Honorable Robert J. Butts leads the Cheboygan Count Child Protection Mediation Team made up of the 53rd Family Court-Patti Hansen, Department of Human Services Director Julie Sproul, and with the Protective Services Case workers- Donna Appold, Borbra Johnston, Brooke Dell, Caroline Beltz and the Foster Care workers- Annette Keogh, Wendy Orsini, Dana Holcomb, Kristi Mclary, Prosecutor-Anthony Damiano , Attorneys for the parents, Attorney for the child or children- Nancy Dean, Bill Keogh, Donna Hansel, George Tschirhart, and Melissa Goodrich,  involved families and parents, and Community Mediation Services- Annette Wells, Judi Doan and volunteer mediators.


                On September 27, 2012 The Michigan Supreme Court presented The Honorable Robert E. Weiss Award to four Michigan judges during the Adoption & Permanency Forum in Jackson Michigan. The Honorable Robert J. Butts, Chief Judge, Cheboygan County Probate Court and his team members were awarded the Honorable Robert E. Weiss Award for Excellence in Working as a Team.

The goal of the Child Protection Mediation Program Team is to utilize the mediation process so together they can determine a safe, permanent home for children in a timely manner for Cheboygan County Child Protection Cases.

The Cheboygan Child Protection Mediation Program Team came together in 2001, since that time over 311 cases have been court ordered to participate in the mediation program. Of the cases ordered, 90% agree to participate in the program, the other 10% are settled prior, dismissed or a party refuses to participate.  The benefits of the program are fewer contested hearings, increased compliance with service plans, less time spent in foster care, parents feeling they have more of a voice in the proceedings, more cooperative relationships in the child welfare system and high rates of agreement. The 279 cases that have participated in the mediation program between 2001 and 2011 had TEAMS that successfully reached agreements in 84% of the cases.

This innovative approach starts with the TEAM mediating the prevention services and plans developed by the Department of Human Services in partnership with the other team players allowing the parents an opportunity to voluntarily begin services, understand the services, make a commitment to the services and agree to the placement of the child or children. The entire team works together through the mediation process, providing the families an opportunity to have a voice, gain an understanding and to make an agreement that is created and agreed upon by all the parties at the table including the parents. This “TEAM” process keeps the case moving forward, utilizes mediation as needed throughout the court process, allowing everyone to state why they are involved and what needs to be done at one time. This ensures that all parties have the necessary information in a timely manner to meet the needs of the child and/or children as quickly as possible. The process continues as needed with agreements to wording of the petition, placement or guardianship and visitation issues. It even continues to work with the families to terminate parental rights in cases where the service plans were not met or service plans were not an option for the families. Together as a TEAM they work together with the parents, so the parents have an understanding of what is in the best interest of the child or children, allowing parents to voluntarily terminate their parental rights with the knowledge and understanding of their role in the court process of Child Protection.

This TEAM has worked effectively over the last 11 years, ensuring that all the parties understand the goal, have a voice, provide understanding, and respect everyone’s needs. The dynamics of this team are unique, for the number involved, the organizations represented, the parents participating, all of them working together for the need of the child…it’s amazing!

The team is lead by the Honorable Robert J. Butts, Chief Judge of the Cheboygan County Probate Court.

Judge Robert John Butts attended Central Michigan University, Oakland University, and Thomas M. Cooley law School. In 2000, after 18 years in private practice including 5 years as assistant prosecutor, he was elected Cheboygan County Probate and Family Court Judge and was reelected in 2006. Judge Butts currently serves as the secretary to the Michigan Probate Judges Association and is involved in many groups and committees for that organization and for the Michigan Judicial Institute and State Court Administrative office, including being a trainer for the Child Protection mediators in 2004 and 2007. Locally the Judge is involved in many groups related to the children and adults the court serves including Child Advocacy Council, Human Services Coordinating Body, Cheboygan Adult Service Advocates, Cheboygan Housing and Homeless Coalition, Junior Achievement, and St. Jude’s /Cystic Fibrosis Bike-a-Thon.

The team players over the last eleven years have rotated positions and/or moved out of the area, but all the positions have always been filled with members from the Department of Human Services, Protective Services Case Workers, Foster Care Workers, the local Prosecutor, local attorneys for the parents and children and Community Mediation Services. Together this TEAM, truly achieves the TOGETHER EVERYONE ACHIEVES MORE!

Babe Ruth stated "The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime". This team has effectively worked together on 279 cases over the last 11 years; together they have reached and made agreements on 84% of those cases...all with the goal of making sure the children are in a safe, permanent home in a timely manner!

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