Dispute Resolution Center of Montgomery County offers compassion, free class

By: Margie Taylor
| Published 04/16/2018

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas -- No one likes to have to appear in court if you can avoid it. Add up the costs for a court appearance, attorney fees, time from work, and the stress it takes on your mental well-being. Do you know there is another way to handle disputes in our community?

Disputes are handled Monday through Friday at the Dispute Resolution Center of Montgomery County, Inc. (DRC-MC) in Downtown Conroe, on Thompson Street across the street from the Courthouse.

The non-profit organization was established in 1988 by Commissioners Court and the Montgomery County Bar Association and started with a small table set up in the hall of the Courthouse. Last year with only 3 paid staff and 50 volunteers they performed nearly 1,000 mediations for over 5,000 businesses and individuals. Fees are administered on a sliding scale based on ability to pay to prevent disputes from escalating into serious civil or criminal matters.

“I’m so proud of what happens at the DRC-MC every day”, said Board Chairman Lois Voth. “Folks with a dispute are invited into a private room by a mediator to see if they can come up with a settlement that works for both parties. Every day, parties in a mediation at the DRC-MC have the opportunity to go home with a sense of accomplishment because they’ve crafted their own plan to resolve a dispute.”

Montgomery County was the first small county to establish a DRC, but there are now 18 centers across the state. Disputes range from animal nuisance to car repairs, workplace issues, property damage, landlord/tenant issues, child visitation, neighbor complaints, real estate, probate, disability, elderly care, and small claims. Mediations are also available for Child Protective Services cases without a fee. Mediation training classes are offered for adults (including special training for law enforcement officers to be mediators), and CASA, and Jack and Jill of America members have been taught how to de- escalate conflicts. More than $260,000 dollars of volunteer services were donated to the community last year to resolve conflicts through mediation.

Students in kindergarten through eighth grade also participate in the DRC-MC programs through an annual Conflict Resolution Day Bookmark Contest to resolve conflicts by saying “NO TO BULLIES”. In 2017, 1,927 students participated with 16,000 bookmarks being distributed throughout the county.

The public is invited to attend a FREE “Empathy Power Workshop” at the Montgomery County Central Library, located at 104 I-45 N. in Conroe on Friday, April 20 th from 1:00-4:00pm. Continuing Education Credits are available, but attendance is limited to individuals 13 or older. Attendees will learn a 4-part process to transform anger and criticism into compassion for others led by J. Lynn McDonald, a Distinguished Credentialed Mediator in Texas.

" In 1997 the mediation instructor at Sam Houston State highly recommended that I volunteer at the Montgomery County DRC”, stated Ben DeVries, Volunteer at the DRC-MC for 19 years. “The ability to mediate all types of cases, assist with the mediation training and to help mentor the new volunteers was an education where the teacher learned more than the students. It has been a truly great pleasure working with the various attorneys, their clients, fellow mediators and the outstanding staff of the DRC."

The community is fortunate to have the DRC-MC completing thirty years of providing affordable, high-quality dispute resolution services and training to the Montgomery County area. Volunteers including Ben DeVries will be honored at a Volunteer Mediator Appreciation Luncheon on Saturday, April 28th at the April Sound Country Club.

Find out more about the Dispute Resolution Center of Montgomery County by visiting www.resolution-center.org. Visit their Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/MontgomeryCountyDRC. Call (936) 760.6914 8:00am-5:00pm Monday – Friday.

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