Steve Doehler has been named Mid Shore Community Mediation Center’s Volunteer Mediator of the Year by Community Mediation Maryland, the state organization that provides support and training for local community mediation centers. The award was presented at Community Mediation Maryland’s third annual gala and fundraiser on June 28.
Award winners were nominated by each of the state’s community mediation centers from among their most exceptional volunteers.
Doehler became a volunteer mediator shortly after the Mid Shore Community Mediation Center was founded in 2005. He was attracted by the idea of making a contribution to the community by reducing conflict and has taken full advantage of the training offered by Community Mediation Maryland.
Describing the mediation process, Doehler noted, “We are trained to be neutral listeners and facilitate discussion between conflicting parties by reflecting back what each party thinks is fair.” He explained that conflict has costs that are a drain on community resources, including schools, law enforcement and the court system.
Conflict also affects businesses and families. “Upset or angry people don’t make good employees, family members or neighbors,” he said. “The best thing about mediation is that it attempts to reduce the stress that people typically bring to conflicts. If the emotion goes away, so does the hostility, thereby restoring relationships.”
The Mediation Center helps to reduce the effects of conflict on the community by providing no-cost mediation to individuals, families and businesses as an alternative to the courts. “People are surprised that the Center doesn’t charge for its services,” said Doehler. “All we ask is that you are serious about giving the process a chance to work.”
The nonprofit organization receives funding through grants and donations. Doehler noted that employers sometimes make contributions from the savings they find in increased productivity and longevity of their employees, creating a happier workplace.
As a volunteer, Doehler said the payment he receives is the thanks that one gets when a solution is achieved. “That’s well worth the time spent as a volunteer mediator,” he added.
Following a career in the financial advisory field, he not only volunteers as a mediator but also contributes his time to the Mid Shore Community Mediation Center board of directors, serving as Treasurer.
Proud of the organization’s rapid growth over the past few years, Doehler attributes its success to mediation’s confidentiality, support from the courts and the desire of people to keep control of their disputes. “Conflicts can be embarrassing,” he noted. Mediations are protected as private, while court cases can end up very public.
Offering mediation as an option can free up busy court dockets and allow the individuals involved to resolve the conflicts themselves, without giving up control to judges and lawyers. “When you boil it down,” Doehler added, “a large number of disputes don’t involve legal interpretations, but sensitive relationship issues.”
Thanking the Mediation Center and Community Mediation Maryland for the recognition, Doehler expressed his hope that more businesses and individuals become aware of the Center’s services and recognize its value to the community in reducing the costs of conflict.
For more information on mediation, to make a contribution, or to volunteer as a mediator, call Mid ShoreCommunity Mediation Center at 410-820-5553 or visit www.midshoremediation.org.