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Early Settlement Mediation program at NSU

Early Settlement Mediation program at NSU seeks volunteers to help change lives in Eastern Oklahoma

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Each year Eastern Oklahomans give their time and talents to become volunteer mediators through the Early Settlement Mediation Program, a part of the Oklahoma Dispute Resolution System. 

Local courts use program volunteers to assist parties with cases that are disputed on civil, family and child guardianship dockets. Volunteer mediators are also used to help community members settle disputes that are not part of the court system.

“Many people don’t know about our incredible mediation tool that empowers individuals to settle disputes among themselves,” Malaina Yoder, Director of the Early Settlement Mediation, East Program, said. “Taking a moment to listen to the stories of everyone involved in a conflict often makes room for lasting solutions.”

Locally, the East program has continued to experience growth and change. However, it has consistently operated out of Northeastern State University (NSU), serving in its seven-county coverage area: Adair, Cherokee, Delaware, Mayes, Muskogee, Sequoyah and Wagoner.

“The need for mediation has only grown during the pandemic and Eastern Oklahoma Judges, attorneys and community members are more supportive than ever of Early Settlement Mediation,” Yoder said.

She assures that her program will continue following safety protocols to ensure the welfare of volunteers, staff and mediation participants during the ongoing pandemic.

In order to keep up with the referrals from local courts and the community, the Eastern Program needs volunteers. A two-day training session for mediators has been scheduled for Sept. 22 and 23 at Rogers University campus in Claremore. In exchange for the free training, volunteers are asked to complete 20 hours of volunteer time over the next two years. Travel expenses for volunteers living outside of Rogers County will be reimbursed.

Those interested in the training should contact the Early Settlement office at 918-444-3008 or email Yoder at adr-mediation@nsuok.edu.