United Way ‘99: Community volunteers make a difference
Mylissa Buttram of ORNL Human Resources is used to sitting down with folks and helping them “work things out.” Mediation is a skill she uses frequently in her roles as a mom and as a program associate in the Lab’s Office of Workforce Diversity. But she’s taken it a step farther.
Buttram is a volunteer mediator with Community Mediation Services, an agency supported by United Way of Anderson County. The program, formerly known as the Anderson County Center for Community Justice, is the umbrella organization that operates the Victim/Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP) and the Teen and Parent Mediation (TPM) program.
VORP is a voluntary, confidential process in which victims and offenders in nonviolent crime cases can meet face to face and work out a resolution in the presence of a trained mediator. TPM is a similar process for parents and teens to resolve issues and re-establish communication and trust.
“As a volunteer mediator, I encourage people to come together to discuss what happened and explore solutions,” Buttram explained. “It is the mediator’s job to assist the discussion. The victim and offender—or parent and teen—are the main speakers. Mediation is voluntary, and any of the participants may choose to end it at any time. If it is a VORP issue, the case will then go back to court for a final decision.”
Buttram became a volunteer mediator in 1995 after learning about the program from a guest speaker at her church. “It seemed like a natural fit for me because of my job skills, and I thought it would be good experience.” She has participated in several specialized training sessions and has personally mediated about 12 cases so far.
“I think this approach is particularly successful because it allows people—both victims and offenders and parents and teens—to talk about the facts and about their feelings in a neutral and safe environment. In many cases, they’re able to work out together what would right the wrong,” Buttram said. “They can then move on, and they usually understand each other much better.”
Cases for VORP can be referred by judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation officers, victims or offenders. Many involve property crimes, such as theft, vandalism or shoplifting. Parents or teens can request mediation through TPM; issues often involve truancy, chores, choice of friends, discipline, or lack of trust or respect.
Statistics indicate that VORP and TPM help save money, prevent further crimes and problems, and restore trust. “These are good programs,” Buttram adds. “They give people a chance to make their own decisions.”
For more information about VORP or TPM, contact Community Mediation Services, 457-5400, ext. 352.
United Way supported centers fill critical community needs
Volunteer solicitors, coordinators and cabinet members of the ORNL United Way Campaign staff traditionally visit several agencies for a first-hand look at how our United Way dollars are helping others. This year’s tour included a stop at Michael Dunn Center, a Roane County agency offering individual supports to people with developmental disabilities.
Danny Cantrell (left) and Roberta Grafton (second from left) of the ORNL United Way cabinet were among several members of this year’s campaign team who enjoyed a visit to the greenhouse at Michael Dunn Center in Roane County.
The Michael Dunn Center was chartered in 1969 by a group of parents as the Exceptional Children’s Day Care Center. The private nonprofit corporation’s mission was to provide training to any individual impaired by a physical or mental deficiency. Five families led by C.R. Lay, the grandfather of Michael Dunn, a child with Down’s syndrome for whom the center was named, formed the team of advocates who dreamed of developing needed services for people with developmental disabilities because of the lack of appropriate and meaningful programming available to their children.
The center has grown from those early beginnings to include the current Michael Dunn Center, which provides services for youngsters and adults; a supported living and family support services program that provides group homes and an independent apartment complex; the Henry Center day care facility; and Dunn Diversified Industries, which provides employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities in an integrated work setting.
The Michael Dunn Center programs serve more than 400 people each day, with primary emphases on “a person-centered approach, community supports and natural settings.” For more information on programs and activities, contact the center at P.O. Box 507, Gallaher Road, Kingston, 37763, or by phone at 376-3416.
Ted Fox: United, we are stronger I am very proud to serve as the 1999 ORNL United Way campaign chairperson, representing an organization that year after year has shown its support to the community and organizations such as the United Way. I, like most of you, feel that we have an obligation to give back to our communities.
There are so many problems today—drugs, homelessness, illiteracy, poverty, worries about care of children and the elderly, to name a few—and it is not always easy to figure out how to help. Many groups are seeking our support, and we want to be sure that the time and money we give are really making a difference. That’s what United Way is all about.
United Way is one of the best ways to build strong communities and help people who are in need. It is a system based on the principle that united, we are stronger than we can ever be alone.
At each of our county-based United Way organizations, experienced volunteers from all walks of life work to make sure your money is well spent. They select and monitor critical human care services that address the needs of each of our communities. Money given locally is used to solve local problems.
United Way works because of the generosity of people like you at ORNL who give their time and money to strengthen our community. I thank you for your generosity and support.
Ted Fox, 1999 ORNL chairperson
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