At East Central University, there’s an outlet for settling disputes.
The program, known as Early Settlement-East Central, helps area residents by providing mediators to assist with conflict resolution. The Early Settlement program trains volunteers, who become well versed in dispute resolution skills. These volunteers ultimately obtain certification through the Oklahoma Supreme Court to serve the community as mediators.
“Our volunteers come from varied backgrounds,” said Kathy King, area director for the program. “Some are newly retired professionals. Others are interested in peacemaking, while some are just looking for unique ways to give back to the community. All have one thing in common: A desire to help others find ways to peacefully resolve their disputes.”
The program is one of 11 statewide that serves the needs of the community and local courts.
“The cases we mediate don’t actually have to be court related,” King said. “We mediate any dispute where two or more parties are willing to negotiate in a good-faith effort to reach a resolution.”
According to King, a non-related court case is $5 per party while there is no fee for court-filed cases.
In all cases, whether neighbor disputes, small claims, civil, or family and divorce issues, the parties have the opportunity to find agreements that work for both sides.
“If left to the court, there would be a winner and loser. Mediation helps people find agreements that they may not have considered before and fit everyone’s needs,” said King.
The Early Settlement Program handles all disputes, ECU or community wide. The administrative offices of the courts administer the program, and East Central University have served as the program sponsor for over 15 years. Nine Oklahoma counties are under the umbrella of the Early Settlement-East Central Program’s jurisdiction.
Those interested in obtaining more information about the program or training to become a volunteer can contact the Early Settlement-East Central office at 580-559-5674 or email King at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can also be found on the program website:www.earlysettlement.net.
The Early Settlement-East Central office is located in Fentem Hall, Room 305.