North Shore Community Mediation Center (NSCMC) is a non-profit corporation whose members educate and empower people to transform conflicts into opportunities for mutual understanding, social change, communication, and personal growth.
NSCMC, through collaborative efforts, raises public awareness of the value of Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution methods as vehicles for resolving personal differences and diminishing conflict in society at large.
North Shore Community Mediation Center (NSCMC) has its roots in the Salem Mediation Program, which began in 1979 and was housed in the Salem District Court. Initially volunteer mediators, trained in basic mediation, resolved minor criminal cases or small claims cases referred by the judges at the Salem District Court. In 1983, the program expanded to help resolve family disputes between adolescents and other family members. In 1994, North Shore Community Mediation, Inc. was incorporated as a non-profit organization by several dedicated mediators. Currently about 65 volunteer mediators belong to NSCMC; some have been involved since incorporation, some go back to the Salem Mediation Program. From 1994 to 1999, volunteer mediators alone kept the organization running, primarily mediating small claims disputes referred by the Salem District Court while also staffing the office. In 1999 the Board of Directors hired the first staff member to work a few hours a week. Since then the position has grown into a part-time Executive Director. Also in 1999, NSCMC expanded to include its own Parent/Child Mediation Service. Mediators receive specialized training to handle these emotional cases. In 1996 NSCMC began to train students in middle and high schools to become peer mediators. Peer Mediation Trainings have been provided to students and staff in over 14 cities and towns in Essex County. In 2003, NSCMC organized an annual Peer Mediators’ Forum to bring peer mediators from Essex County schools together to celebrate the important work they do in their school community. Keynote speakers at past Forums, which have had themes such as leadership, violence prevention, forgiveness and reconciliation and the power of storytelling to transform conflict, have challenged the student mediators to understand the use of mediation in a much larger context. Currently NSCMC volunteer mediators provide mediation services to communities and residents throughout Essex County and to the Salem, Peabody and Gloucester District Courts, the Essex County Juvenile Court and Salem Probate & Family Court. NSCMC is designated a Face to Face Consumer Mediation Program by the MA Office of the Attorney General and provides mediation services including family mediation (divorce, parent/child, elder), consumer mediation, and community mediation (neighborhood, landlord/tenant disputes, or other community conflicts).
NSCMC accomplishments in FY2012:
1) Mediated close to 150 cases referred by the District Courts in Salem, Peabody and Gloucester, Essex County Juvenile and Essex County Probate and Family Courts, and 35 community cases, with over 60% settlement rate. Over 350 people benefitted from these mediation services.
2) Completed a comprehensive Strategic Plan
3) Youth Initiative:
• Presented a workshop, entitled “Can’t Communicate? Let’s Mediate”, at Essex County Community Foundation’s Annual Youth at Risk Conference.
• Honored over 100 Essex County student mediators at the 9th Annual Peer Mediators’ Forum in April. The Forum included an address by Attorney Jan Schlichtmann and workshops for students from different schools to compare and contrast the success and challenges of their peer mediation programs.
• Despite substantially reduced local funding, brought peer mediation training and conflict resolution programs to over 80 students in four schools and an anti-gang after school program by partnering with small local private foundations, banks and private donors. Although not an anti-bullying program, peer mediation is effective in reducing peer conflict and promoting mutual understanding.
In FY13, NSCMC will focus on the three Action Items generated by the Strategic Plan. These include Marketing, Development, and Programs. The NSCMC Marketing Committee will work to increase the public’s awareness of NSCMC and our services by finalizing marketing pieces that will be distributed to local public sites and will continue to email the NSCMC quarterly newsletter. The Development Committee will focus on the Annual Appeal while also targeting individual donors and new grant opportunities. The Program Committee will evaluate our current mediation programs to determine areas of potential growth.
The loss of our State funding, following the economic downturn in FY2009, forced our Board of Directors and staff to reassess the Center’s budget. The Board made the decision to continue the current level of services (with some staff reductions) and to seek outside funding to finance our operating shortfall. Our efforts have had some success but adequate funding to meet the expenses associated with providing our critical services is still not within our reach. We are depleting our reserves. We are hopeful but by no means certain that in 2 or 3 years full funding may be restored, our survival is dependent on securing interim funding.
Financial support to retain 4 part-time staff ($45,000)
Scholarship funds for mediation training to community members from diverse populations in communities in Essex County ($3,000)
Funding to provide up to 4 twenty-hour peer mediation trainings or conflict resolution programs ($5,000 each) annually for middle or high schools or after-school programs ($20,000)
Funds to create a marketing plan to increase public awareness of the benefit of community mediation services. ($10,000)
Funding to support the cost of an annual financial review or audit ($2,000)
Funds to upgrade aging office computers and technology ($5,000)
Office rent ($12,000)
Conflict is a part of everyday life, but few of us have the tools to resolve our conflicts in a positive way. Using alternative dispute resolution techniques to resolve our disputes and create more peaceful communities requires conscious and ongoing effort. Since 1994, NSCMC has been promoting the use of mediation and training to facilitate this social change throughout Essex County. As a community mediation center, we are committed to providing high quality mediation services: to address community needs, at no cost or on a sliding scale, at any stage in a conflict, scheduling sessions locally and at a convenient time and place. We train community members who reflect the community’s diversity and who are then prepared to mediate disputes within their respective communities. We have helped thousands of people struggle with family issues including setting rules with adolescents, divorcing and separating households, and helping with elder care planning. We have helped consumers resolve issues with businesses and neighbors work out difficult neighborhood conflicts. We have resolved disputes between juveniles referred by the juvenile court and assisted co-workers with conflicts that create uncomfortable workplaces.
In addition to providing mediation services to courts, municipalities, organizations, and residents, NSCMC has allocated significant resources to train Essex County youth about conflict and to teach better communication skills. Providing this training and support is a high priority for our Center. These are the future business owners, attorneys, doctors, judges, parents and politicians who will be our community leaders. They live in a challenging environment that focuses on intense media and fast paced interaction. Learning how to better communicate face to face with peers, teachers, and family members prepares them for the challenges they will face as adults.
NSCMC’s mediation and training services are unique in how they impact a broad range of community needs throughout Essex County, including community improvement, social action, education, violence prevention, and youth development. Support for NSCMC will have an effect on all of these critical needs. Because of the very substantial reduction in our state funding, we have been forced to utilize our limited reserves which are depleting rapidly. Our survival is dependent on securing interim funding until the State is again able to provide us with financial support.
Board Chair Statement