Community Mediation Services
Our Mission is to help Maine people, groups, and communities resolve conflicts with a vision of promoting stronger, more peaceful relationships and communities.
We accomplish this by providing trained and impartial Mediators and Facilitators; offering a safe environment for people to talk, and define and clarify issues that lead to improved communication; assisting people in taking responsibility for the resolution of their disputes and having control of their outcome; and offering Conflict Resolution and Mediation Training and Workshops to groups and communities.
Our History: Community Mediation Services (CMS), formerly Kennebec Dispute Resolution Project, was established in September 1993 and incorporated in February of 1994. It was originally conceived by a small group of community members in the Augusta area, who gathered around a kitchen table with the dream of raising consciousness about the value of alternative dispute resolution and looking for a way to provide mediation services to people in their community. They recruited an active Board of Directors drawn from a diverse array of citizens, including people involved in education, law enforcement, courts, advocacy for low income and disabled people, public housing, elder services and the mental health community. The first grant came from the Maine Community Foundation to conduct a needs assessment on the need for, and likely utilization of, a community mediation program. Subsequently the board developed referral arrangements with several agencies and recruited 15 trained volunteer mediators that were provided with additional program specific training. In April of 1996 the project was able to hire a part-time coordinator and then in April, 1999 hired its first full-time Executive Director. In 1996 the Portland, Bangor and Augusta Community Mediation programs became a coalition and worked together to write and implement grants. In approximately 2008 Portland and Bangor stopped providing mediation services and in 2009 Community Mediation Services, the last existing community program, became part of Volunteers of America Northern New England.
Services We Provide: From the beginning, CMS has provided low cost or free mediation to the community. The types of mediation include (but are not limited to) disputes between: landlord/ tenants; neighbor to neighbor; employer/employee; service providers and clients, parent/teens, families, elders with each other or their families, and senior housing projects. We have provided service to those who are economically and socially disadvantaged, including cases referred by Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Legal Service for the Elderly, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Maine Human Rights Commission, the Department of Corrections, the United States Department of Agriculture and others.
Volunteer Mediators: CMS uses volunteer mediators who have 40 hours of general mediation training. A co-mediation model is used - each mediation always having two mediators present. CMS offers additional training on topic areas related to the types of mediations provided such as: landlord tenant law, safety issues, mental health issues, policies and mandates of legal services, agriculture and the elderly.
Other Services:We also provide group and business meeting facilitation, and a broad array of customized trainings.