During the past year the Conunission has actively
recruited and trained a dedicated corps of volunteers to help with the work
of the agency. The majority of the volunteers have been involved in the
mediation of complaints which have been screened but not yet investigated.
Other volunteers have performed paralegal and support work.
The goal of mediation is to offer the parties an opportunity to enter into a voluntary settlement or resolution of the complaint. The volunteers have resolved many cases that would have waited months longer for an investigation to commence. This is a great service to the Commission as well as to the parties to the complaints to reach a quicker resolution.
Comniission staff provide the initial and on-going training for all the volunteer positions, so no particular experience is required.
The volunteers have come from many walks of life with varying backgrounds. Some have have been in work or educational settings which have given them exposure to legal issues and mediation skills; others have not. The area colleges and universities have been a good source of volunteers, but many have also come from the community. After the Commission volunteers were highlighted on a local television program, many more people called to offer help. Volunteering is an excellent way for people to help the Commission fight discrimination, find satisfaction in helping others, and learn skills which may be useful in other areas of life.