Thoughts about My Volunteer Experience at JCMS

Having trouble talking with family members, co-workers, neighbors, HOA reps or even your friends at church doesn’t mean you need to hold a grudge or store up all that resentment.  The growing number of professional mediators in Colorado offers you a valuable option.  Mediators can work with both parties to help sort out the issues that are driving the problems.  One important thing that helps people move toward resolution is simply being given the opportunity to express how they feel about a situation.  Just because people feel differently or see a situation differently does not make one right and the other one wrong.  A good mediator allows both parties to express their viewpoints and to find common ground.  Not all mediations end with the parties’ singing Kumbaya together, but frequently people gain hope and a sense of satisfaction.

I’ve been volunteering my time with the Jefferson County Small Claims court for 2 ½ years.  I’ve seen many more successes than failures.  When a person starts talking and listening to the other party, they often experience a certain “aha” moment, and realize that the other person might be seeing the same situation differently.  They can then negotiate, and sometimes both parties end up feeling great about the outcome.  Other times they come to an agreement that may not be exactly what they wanted, but it’s better than ending up with nothing.  I’ve seen both parties willing to compromise because they simply want to put the experience behind them.

The rewarding experiences for me are those moments of simply watching people work through their differences together.  It’s not always easy or comfortable, but it makes the world a better place.

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Mary Gardner spent 36 years in the environmental regulatory field. Her experiences with difficult situations led to her interest in mediation.  After obtaining mediation training she joined the volunteer team at Jefferson County Mediation Services. She is also certified in Conflict Coaching and law enforcement/citizen conflict resolution.  Since recently retiring she is happily volunteering more time in Jefferson County mediation cases.