As a learning organization, the DRC is constantly evolving and changing to meet the needs of our community. Whether it is staff transitions, new or sunsetting programs, or simply the changing of the seasons, there is always so much change happening around us. We recognize we can get lost in the work that do and sometimes forget to pause and reconnect with each other.
We want to offer you the opportunity to get to know a little bit about the current DRC staff! Feel free to reach out with any questions that may come up or if you see you have something in common!
A big THANK YOU to all those who were able to join us and make this year's annual volunteer appreciation picnic a super special event! We relish every opportunity to celebrate you, without whom the work we do would not be possible!
We are so appreciative to our amazing Board of Directors who brought snacks and libations and spent the afternoon grilling in under the sun! Another big thanks to all the volunteers who brought dishes to share! There were delicious salads, stir-frys, and desserts!
We already can't wait to see you all next year!
On Sunday, May 7th, we gathered at Lacey Community Center for A Celebration of Peacemakers. The DRC's first large indoor, in-person gathering since 2019, this new event honored our volunteers, supporters, advocates and community partners - all those whose efforts help create a more civil and peaceful community.
The highlight of the afternoon was the presentation of the Evan Ferber Peacemaker Leadership Award to Anne Larsen, in recognition of her community service. Anne Developed the Crisis Response Unit and Familiar Faces Program. These programs focus on community members in crisis due to poverty, trauma, and mental health issues or substance disorders, with the goal of connecting clients to housing, medical care, treatment, and to their families.
The presence of several past recipients of the Peacemaker Award, or family representatives, made this a doubly-special gathering.
Past Peacemaker Award Recipients.
L-R Evan Ferber, Glen Anderson, Rabbi Seth Goldstein, Anne Larsen, Kathy Baro Friedt, Betty Utter, Matt Grant, Jose Gutierrez (deceased - photo held by his sister, Stella Haioulani), Shelly Willis, Mary Fairhurst, (deceased - photo held by Shelly Willis)
Thank you to everyone that was able to join us for our annual Volunteer Appreciation Picnic. We love any opportunity to spend quality time with you! Also a big thanks to Bayview Catering for providing a delicious BBQ Pork spread!
We are so grateful that our 2022 Evan Ferber Peacemaker Leadership Award Recipient's family was able to join us to accept the award on his behalf. Learn more about Jose Gutierrez Jr. below.
Jose Gutierrez Jr. - 2022 Evan Ferber Peacemaker Leadership Award Recipient
Jose served his local community in countless roles, since the early age of 12, using his gifts as a man of faith, an educator, mentor, professor, DJ, philanthropist, advocate, certified mediator, founder, leader, entertainer, philosopher, and innovator.
Jose was a charismatic & iconic leader in his community, opposing injustice of all kinds creating dynamic solutions to comprehensive problems that many shy away from. Because of his passion for serving, Jose has spent a lifetime dedicated to being a peacemaker. As a leader, he has stood in the middle of crisis, speaking truth to power while offering practical, innovative, and progressive solutions. He was and is truly a local legend and his contributions to humanity are a reflection of what it means to love, lead and serve.
Jose saw conflict as an opportunity to creatively reach a common ground using various forms of the arts and media to reach people of all walks of life; synthesizing his gifts and professional knowledge as a philosopher, poet, Hip-Hop artist, DJ, journalist, professor, and Certified Mediator imparting life-long tools, skills and wisdom to his diverse audience.
Mother Teresa once said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Jose’s life’s work has been an embodiment of that sentiment. We were honored to present this award to Jose’s sister Stella Hoioulani at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Picnic August 10, 2022.
Around 9:00 this morning, the DRC office experienced a system outage that affected our ability to access our server and answer phones. This has immediately become our highest priority and technical support is working to identify the source of the problem and get us back up and running.
Many staff members have returned home to work remotely and continue to provide services to our community as best as we can. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused to our volunteers, our clients, and our community. We understand the impact an outage can have on people's lives and we thank you for your patience and support while get our systems back online.
If you have an urgent need in the meantime, please contact Robyn Togesen and we will do our best to help until we get things back to normal.
Update - 2/28/2022 2:53 pm: Our services are now back online and we are fully able to return to normal operations. Thank you again for your patience and understanding!
P.S. Because our phone systems were inaccessible from 9:00 am to about 3:00 pm, deadlines for Eviction Resolution Program cases will be extended through end of business tomorrow, March 1, 2022 to accommodate this outage.
The Dispute Resolution Center (DRC) is responsive to the continually changing public health reality in our region and state. As such, our exposure control, mitigation and recovery plan is directed by Washington State requirements. Our primary interest and concern remains the health and safety of our community, staff, volunteers, and clients – in the near- and long-term.
The following safety measures are in place until posted otherwise. All staff, volunteers and visitors are required to comply with this plan:
- The DRC office hours are Monday – Friday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm. Current hours for the Conflict Resolution Resource Line remain 9:00 am – 1:00 pm. Volunteers and visitors are advised to call prior to visiting - 360/956-1155 - to ensure that someone is onsite.
- Anyone with the following symptoms is asked to refrain from being onsite until fully well: loss of taste or smell, chills, fever, cough, difficulty breathing and/or muscle aches.
- Public entrances will remain locked so the staff door remains the only option for entry by a member of the community. Visitors must call the office - 360/956-1155 - to notify that they have arrived and await entry instructions.
- Anyone onsite must maintain proper infection control procedures as indicated by hand-washing posters in the kitchen and bathrooms.
- Staff, volunteers and visitors who are not vaccinated are required to wear a cloth face mask fully covering both nose and mouth for the entirety of their time while onsite. Anyone vaccinated must continue to wear a mask while in publicly-accessible shared spaces within the building.
- All facilitation, training and mediation continues to be provided primarily online. The DRC will not be hosting onsite public-access services until 2022, in response to changing conditions and organizational capacity.
Congratulations to Mary Fairhurst & Shelly Willis, recipients of the 2021 Evan Ferber Peacemaker Leadership Award.
Two outstanding individuals have been chosen to be recognized with the 2021 Evan Ferber Peacemaker Leadership Award. Named in honor of Evan Ferber, the DRC's founding executive director, this annual award recognizes those who have provided extraordinary leadership in promoting peace, and strengthening civil discourse and civic harmony. Normally a feature of the DRC's annual spring fundraiser, The Toast, this year the awards were presented at the DRC's Volunteer Appreciation Picnic on August 18th.
Mary Fairhurst served as Chief Justice of the Washington State Supreme Court, retiring in 2019 after 16 years on the Court. A graduate of Gonzaga Law School, she served in the Washington State Attorney General's office before joining the Court.
Throughout her career, Mary has focused on access to justice and protecting the rights of individuals impacted by our justice system, including domestic violence survivors and individuals accused of crimes. She has worked to enhance opportunities for women and minorities in the legal profession and to ensure access to justice for low-income individuals and families.
Mary has devoted her life to education, understanding that, through education, we can build the public's trust, confidence and engagement in our justice system.
Shelly Willis has served for more than 20 years as Executive Director of Family Education and Support Services (FESS), whose mission focuses on providing and promoting stability and resilience in families.
Some of the greatest challenges and disputes in our society happen within families. Among the FESS programs that Shelly has helped develop - and is a key resource for families served by the DRC - is Consider the Children, which focuses on strategies to help children whose parents who are going through a separation or divorce.
Mother Teresa once said, "What can you do to promote peace in the world? Go home and love your family." Shelly's life's work has been an embodiment of that sentiment.
Mary and Shelly are highlighted in a special feature story in Thurston Talk. Read the article.
Learn how you can support and get involved in the work of the Dispute Resolution Center by clicking here.
Washington State’s phased re-opening plan is responsive to the continually changing public health reality in our region. As such, the Dispute Resolution Center (DRC) has had a similarly fluid response, directed by the statewide guidance of the time. Our primary interest and concern remains the health and safety of our community, staff, volunteers, and clients – in both the near- and long-term.
The following safety precautions are in place until posted otherwise to protect the health and wellness of everyone and to curtail the further spread of illness. We are asking everyone to support these efforts.
In 2019 the Dispute Resolution Center of Thurston County served 6,168 members of our community through mediation, facilitation, training, youth outreach, conflict coaching and our Conflict Resolution Resource Line - an increase of 35% from the prior year!
This record of service was made possible by more than 140 volunteers who collectively give over 5,000 hours of service each year to help make our vision - a South Sound community that has a uses healthy and respectful conflict resolution skills - a reality. The contributions of our dedicated volunteers - the "heart and soul" of our organization - are highlighted in our 2020 Community Impact Report.
The theme of this year's report -"Navigating a Way Forward" - highlights both the DRC's focus on helping individuals, families and organizations navigate conflict, and our efforts to develop innovative new online resources to serve our community as we all navigate through uncharted waters during these challenging times.
We hope you will take a few moments to read the online version of our report.
We are in a period of significant societal transformation—with the COVID-19 outbreak and racial justice movement. The actions we take, as individuals and as institutions, will have a lasting, profound effect on our collective experience.
In my varied roles within this community, I see tremendous potential to create a stronger society IF we navigate this time of conflict well. It requires each of us to be willing to have uncomfortable conversations, and we need to have them with a spirit of openness and a willingness to listen, understand, and grow.
Navigating conflict, in ways that maintain, restore and rebuild relationships, is as old as human history. We have sat in circle discussing harm and addressing accountability. We have asked for support from others to facilitate tough conversations. This practice of coming together in a way that enables us to truly see and understand our fellow humans comes from an ancient interest and need to stay safe by remaining in community with one another.
In this moment that we find ourselves, I keep reflecting on other times in history where significant social change occurred. The civil rights movement of the 1960s was one of these times. Communities mobilized, catalyzed by feelings of confusion, sadness, anger, and for some, optimism and hope.
This period of uncertainty, change, and conflict contributed to the birth of community mediation centers, via the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The act established the Community Relations Service within the Department of Justice, which was referred to as “America’s Peacemaker for Community Conflict.” A few years later, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration funded the formation of neighborhood justice centers, which were the precursors to today’s community mediation centers, such as your local Dispute Resolution Center of Thurston County.
We are again in a pivotal time of history, filled with uncertainty, change, and conflict. People may be motivated to seek solutions through litigation or violence. In Olympia, we are seeing demonstrations that occasionally result in destruction and arrests. In addition, as our state reopens from the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, we are seeing a rise in tenant-landlord disputes, housing insecurity, struggles for at-risk youth, and family or neighbor conflicts.
I know from experience that the best solutions emerge when we work together - when we convene people with diverse viewpoints and interests, who are willing to show up, without thinking they have all the answers but with an interest in creating a future that works better than today.
As we tackle difficult topics such as police brutality, racial inequality, socioeconomic disparities, our emphasis needs to be on dialogue - to facilitate difficult and courageous conversations. We need to think deeply about how we handle conflicts and develop skills to create more peace in our lives and communities. We need to work on understanding, especially when we disagree with what is being said.
At the Dispute Resolution Center of Thurston County, we focus on listening and learning to understand how we can offer space for individuals and groups to have voice, seek healing and address needs. When we can do that, people begin to make informed decisions for the common good.
We can build towards our common humanity, our sense of unity, our shared need for safety and security, and our desire to remain in community with one another. We can choose to stand together.
Jody M. Suhrbier
Executive Director, Dispute Resolution Center of Thurston County
Director Member, Resolution Washington
Director of the Board, National Association for Community Mediation
2604 12th Court SW, Suite B
Olympia WA 98502
PO Box 6184
Olympia WA 98507
ERP Program: Monday–Thursday 9am–5pm
Federal Tax ID: 94-3130662
Contact US (360) 956-1155
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