Cleveland Mediation Center celebrates 25th Anniversary

(Plain Press, December 2006) On Thursday November 16th, Cleveland Mediation Center (CMC) held a 25th Anniversary celebration at Massimo da Milano on W. 25th and Detroit Avenue. Originally called the Cleveland Youth Mediation Program (CYMP), the organization was founded in 1981. CYMP was modeled after a program from Scotland first introduced to the neighborhood by a worker at the West Side Community House. Some of the early board members took a trip to Scotland to see the program first hand.

In 1982 CYMP trained its first mediation class. In 1985, peer mediation programs and family school mediations began in Cleveland schools. In 1986 CYMP became a United Way member.

In 1990 community cases increased beyond youth cases. The organization began to mediate some larger neighborhood wide disputes such as the proposed expansion of St. Herman’s facility to include a dining hall and the merger of Near West Housing and Ohio City Redevelopment Association to form Ohio City Near West Development Corporation.

In 1992 Cleveland Youth Mediation Program changed its name to Cleveland Mediation Center to reflect its growing community work. In 1998 the center received funding from the Office of Homeless Services to help mediate evictions cases between landlords and tenants.

Today Cleveland Mediation Center offers a wide variety of mediation services including couples mediation, divorce mediation, training in conflict resolution and mediation skills, group facilitation and workplace intervention, training in cross cultural communication and dissolution of marriage kits. The organization still works with youths to resolve conflicts and has initiated the School Attendance Project which uses mediation to work with families to help improve school attendance.

Cleveland Mediation Center Board of Directors President Lisa Gaynier presented Cleveland Housing Court Judge Raymond Pianka with the first ever CMC Community Service Award saying Pianka helped to make the court system “more humane.” She praised Judge Pianka’s work to create the selective intervention program which helps the indigent and elderly avoid eviction.

In accepting the award, Pianka said mediation was a “win-win situation that allowed the parties to keep their dignity even if they were falling off the last rung of the housing ladder.” Pianka noted that the Cleveland Mediation Center’s staff regularly reviewed the area’s 11,000 annual evictions to look for prospects for mediation in the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program.

Recounting a conversation from 22 years ago, Cleveland Mediation Center Executive Director Dan Joyce said he still remembers the conversation with Marita Kavelec, CYMP’s first executive director. Joyce said it was a cold snowy winter day and fifteen people showed up at the West Side Community House for mediation training. Joyce wondered why the volunteers had braved the elements to attend the training session. Kavelec said a common belief that the status quo was not good enough bound people together to work for change.

Joyce believes that CMC has been part of that effort for change over the past 25 years empowering people and giving a voice to the voiceless. Mediation offers an alternative, he says,  showing that “blame, shame and punishment is not the answer.”

For more information about the Cleveland Mediation Program call 621-1919 or visit the Cleveland Mediation Center website at: www.clevelandmediation.org.

 

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