|NVMS Conflict Resolution Center (The Mount Vernon Gazette)|
By Del. Paul Krizek
Wednesday, August 2, 2023
We in the Mount Vernon area are incredibly lucky to have so many excellent local nonprofits dedicated to improving lives in our community.
Today, I will highlight the work of the Northern Virginia Mediation Services (NVMS) Conflict Resolution Center, an organization for which I recently joined the Advisory Council.
NVMS has its origins in the late 1980s when graduate students at George Mason University’s Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution crafted a framework to address the need for mediation training to provide alternative ways for disputants to resolve conflicts in lieu of going to court.
Now a 32-year 501(c)(3) nonprofit, NVMS creates safe spaces for family members and individuals in the community to talk through interpersonal conflicts. Their services include civil mediation for community members, organizations, and businesses, as well as training that enhances individual conflict resolution competency. Since its inception, NVMS has solved thousands of civil and domestic issues between parties.
Mediation allows disputing parties to be heard and encourages a positive environment to work through difficult issues, seeking a workable solution for both parties. Mediation is much less costly than a court case. NVMS has worked to find solutions to disputes between families, landlords and tenants, neighbors, coworkers, businesses and customers, and in small claims court disputes in Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun, and Falls Church district courts. Just in 2022, NVMS successfully mediated two private workplace disputes, 27 child visitation and child support cases, nine private family mediation sessions involving separation, divorce, and elder care, and 55 small claims disputes.
Another key program offered by NVMS is restorative justice, based on the understanding that a crime harms not just the victim but also the offender, the families of both, and the communities in which they live. This practice encourages the offender to accept accountability while allowing the parties to understand each other’s perspectives. In 2022, NVMS supported 190 community members through restorative conversations.
NVMS offers skill-based coursework for participants to work towards a Virginia Supreme Court mediation certification, and also offers continuing mediation education (CME/SHRM) and legal education (CLE) credits approved by the Virginia Bar.
NVMS also offers exclusive group training to universities, corporations, and government agencies on myriad topics around conflict resolution, organizational development, communication, restorative justice and practices, and equal employment opportunity (EEO) in the workplace.
Finally, NVMS offers community conflict training to empower residents to have the tools to manage and de-escalate conflicts in their daily lives. A recent training took place at the Gum Springs Community Center.
While access to NVMS programs is usually through referrals from designated channels, such as by the court or law enforcement, anybody can access most mediation services and trainings at a sliding scale fee.
If you would like to learn more about NVMS and their mission of mediation, restorative justice facilitation, and conflict resolution training, you can visit their website (https://nvms.us) or join me at their community picnic on Sept. 21 from 1-4 pm at Van Dyck Park, 3720 Blenheim Blvd, Fairfax, VA 22030. Experienced practitioners will be available to meet with community members.