Frank Minkner of Stratford was named the Volunteer Mediator of the Year for the Oklahoma Dispute Resolution System at the Annual Volunteer Conference Oct. 28 at the Administrative Office of the Courts in Oklahoma City.
The Oklahoma Dispute Resolution program provides an important service to local communities throughout Oklahoma in both community- and court-related disputes, said Kathy King, the Early Settlement East Central program director. The resolution program is funded by the court system and uses volunteers such as Minkner throughout the state to act as mediators.
The Early Settlement Program serving the East Central Oklahoma area is located at East Central University in the Center of Continuing Education and Community Services. It includes Garvin, Grady, Hughes, McClain, McIntosh, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie and Seminole Counties.
“Frank has had a lifetime of public service working in the field of youth corrections and probation,” King said. “He believes in empowering people to find solutions.”
Minkner also believes that solutions to issues should rest at the local level.
“Ownership of problems must be with those who are in the middle of the action,” Minkner said. “They are always the ones with the solutions.
“I think people sometimes are amazed at the relaxed, non-judicial atmosphere of the mediation.” He continued. “They expect it to be very formal and rigid. I think they are not expecting to be really listened to, or that mediation can even work. I also think they are surprised by their power to make decisions during the mediation process.”
Minkner said being a mediator not only touches others, it touches the mediator as well.
“Mediation is a process that can’t help but affect one’s own life in the area of personal conflict. How we respond to conflict is clearly touched by the mediation experience,” he said.
Being involved in something like Early Settlement is important to him.
“The investment into the lives of people in conflict is worth the time and effort. Seeing people resolve their issues, mend relationships and move beyond their bitterness is very satisfying,” he said. “It continues to amaze me how effective the process can be.”
King said Minkner is “truly one in a million.”
“It is rare to find someone who is so committed to helping others who also possesses the outstanding skills Frank has as a mediator,” she said. “But the most exceptional thing about Frank Minkner is his heart. He is compassionate and cares about helping people who are hurting find ways to heal through mediation.”
Volunteer trainings are scheduled through Early Settlement to prepare volunteers to provide this valuable and much needed service. Persons interested in training to become a volunteer mediator through the program should contact the Early Settlement office at 580-559-5674, or email King at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Early Settlement Mediation Program visit www.earlysettlement.net .