Solving Problems in the Midlands
Welcome to your Community Mediation Center! Our offices are located adjacent to Columbia College at 4801 Colonial Drive in Columbia, SC, on the second floor of the College Place United Methodist Church. Our phone number is 803-714-1176.
The Community Mediation Center provides low-cost conflict resolution services to the Midlands community. Our trained mediators help resolve disputes between friends, neighbors, groups, family members and between employees and employers.
The mission of the Community Mediation Center is to help individuals and organizations resolve conflict, improve relationships and strengthen community.
The Community Mediation Center was incorporated in 1998 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Center’s staff consists of an Executive Director, a Programs Manager, and a Program Capacity Coordinator. CMC also has two Americorps/VISTA Volunteers, a development consultant, and approximately 40 volunteer mediators. The Center provides a safe, non-adversarial process for people to resolve their disputes confidentially and inexpensively.
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Is Mediation Right For You?
Mediation is a process of dispute resolution in which one or more impartial third parties intervenes in a conflict with the consent of the disputants and assists them in negotiating a consensual and informed agreement. In mediation, the decision-making authority rests with the parties themselves. Recognizing variations in styles and cultural differences, the role of the mediator(s) involves assisting the disputants in defining and clarifying issues, reducing obstacles to communication, exploring possible solutions, and reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement. Mediation presents the opportunity to peacefully express conflict and to “hear each other out” even when an agreement is not reached. (National Association of Community Mediation)
What We Do – The Community Mediation Center (CMC) provides free and low-cost conflict resolution and dispute resolution services to the Midlands community, with primary activities currently in Richland and Lexington Counties. Mediation and mediator training are primary services, along with group facilitation for conflict resolution, consensus building and decision-making.
Our trained, volunteer mediators help resolve disputes between
- friends, neighbors, community groups and family members;
- employees and employers;
- couples negotiating separation, divorce, custody, property settlements;
- family members struggling with other conflicts;
- landlords and tenants disputing rent and housing conditions;
- litigants in Magistrates Court cases to enable disputing parties to resolve their cases without going to trial;
- multi-party disputes that affect many organized groups and may involve local public policy decisions and their implementation.
CMC provides conflict resolution education.
- Training and skill-building workshops for individual mediators, organizations and agencies.
- Training and assistance for schools (K-12) in peer mediation and truancy mediation.
- Training for staff and mediators in individual education plans (IEP) for special-needs children.
- Conflict coaching classes and consultation for persons referred from law enforcement, court intervention programs, local schools and colleges to build skills in productive communication.
Benefits of Mediation
- It is informal.
- It is voluntary on each of the parties.
- It helps parties reach agreements consensually – the mediator cannot impose a solution.
- It is confidential.
- It emphasizes self determination and problem-solving, not “naming and blaming.
- It focuses parties on their underlying “interests” (needs) instead of their “positions” (demands).
- It is a practical process that moves the parties beyond anger and other negative emotions that are often experienced in conflicts.
- It helps preserve and improve relationships.
How We Support Our Services
CMC’s resources are a mix of donations from individuals, corporations and community organizations; grants from foundations and corporations; grants and contracts from public agencies and courts; and fee-for-service income from training and from mediation services that are provided on a sliding scale depending upon disputants’ ability to pay. Like all not-for-profit organizations, CMC seeks to maintain a diversified revenue base in order to maintain its capacity and respond to changing needs. Because the needs of our communities keep changing, and CMC works hard to adjust its services to meet new needs, while maintaining services that continue to be important.
The Value of Diversity
CMC and its programs are intended to be a reflection of our communities, including the multitude of traditions, customs, and values. Toward that end, we honor, embrace, and encourage diversity in all aspects of our work. Similarly we seek diversity in our volunteers, staff and board of directors.
Legal and Organizational Status -The Community Mediation Center is a 501 (c) (3), not-for-profit organization incorporated in South Carolina. CMC is a Certified Partner Agency of United Way of the Midlands.
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The Community Mediation Program is designed for interpersonal disputes between friends, neighbors and family members. Typical issues mediated involve property damage, consumer complaints, landlord tenant disputes and animal nuisance. To ensure access to all community members, community mediation services are provided by the center without charge.
The Quality Housing Program provides mediation and referral services for people experiencing difficulty making their monthly rent or mortgage payment. The services are provided without charge. The goal of the program is to assist individuals and families in maintaining stable housing during trying financial times.
The Family Mediation Program provides low-cost mediation services relating to separation and divorce. The fees for this type of mediation are on a sliding scale, based on income.
The Court-Connected Mediation Program provides the opportunity for those with cases in Magistrate’s Court to resolve their dispute using mediation rather than going to a trial by jury.
The Conflict Coaching Program offers four week sessions on anger management and productive communication. The participants in this program are referred from Pre-Trial Intervention and other similar programs throughout the Midlands.
The Truancy Mediation Program helps our children stay in school and out of the juvenile justice system by helping to discover the root causes of truancy. Volunteer mediators work with children, parents and school administrators to reduce or eliminate unlawful school absences and tardies.
The Employee Mediation Program assists employees settle disputes within a business or organization.
The Group Facilitation Program is for multi-party or large group issues. The Center’s Training Program offers various courses in conflict resolution, mediation and communication skill building.
Referral sources for the Center include local courts, law enforcement, schools, government agencies; business, consumer, and human service organizations, schools, neighborhood groups, civic groups, and churches. Our volunteer mediators have diverse professional careers and have completed mediation training
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