Towne Salute: Jan Hardin of Mid Shore Community Mediation Center
May 18, 2017 10:45AM ● Published by Nicole Gould
It’s not too often that you meet someone who introduces you into something that ultimately changes your life. It all happened one afternoon when Jan Hardin and her son met a friend of his at Taco Bell. That’s when Hardin met Cynthia Jurrius who first introduced her to mediation.
Over the last four years, Hardin has been an avid volunteer at the Mid Shore Community Mediation Center (MSCMC) in Easton, which is a non-profit organization for people that helps promote productive problem-solving conversations. MSCMC serves residents across Dorchester, Talbot, and Caroline counties.
“She’s [Jurrius] such a cheerleader for the cause that she told me they had a mediation training coming up and I should try it,” Hardin says. “I didn’t know anything about mediation, but said I’d try it. That’s the way most of us get into it, we don’t know about it.”
In mediation, people can resolve disputes, find solutions that work for them, and make plans about the future. Hardin does as many mediations that she can including both parenting plan mediations and re-entry mediations.
“You know you’re doing too many when you can’t begin to sum up the faces of people who have a return mediation,” Hardin explains.
Re-entry mediations are a process where the mediators work with someone who is about to be released from prison to help work out the details of their release. Hardin works with these prisoners on building a plan full of hope.
According to Hardin, “Those are really good mediations because a lot of them are young people who have been sitting in prison just long enough to think through where they’ve been, where they want to go, and where they don’t want to go in the future.”
The parenting plan mediations are usually for couples that have children together, but can’t live together. The idea is to work out a plan so both parents can have the opportunity to positively influence and have time with their child.
“It’s hard,” Hardin admits. “It’s a hard thing for them to be going through and it’s really wonderful to see how the mediation process works. You go through a couple sessions and sometimes you see a shift that happens. Two people, who aren’t hearing each other or don’t even want to be in the same room, all of a sudden have a shift and begin to work together and listen to one another. It’s really exciting.”
In addition to being an active mediator, Jan also serves on the Board of Directors and helps with volunteer engagement. While on the BOD, Hardin’s main concern is to keep the mediators engaged because she admits that too often they’ll get their training, start mediating, and give up. In order to keep them engaged, they’ll hold re-training sessions and social activities. For her tireless efforts with MSCMC, Hardin was honored as Volunteer of the Year for the organization in 2016.
“Jan is an exceptional listener and she creates a space where people can really talk to each other,” Jurrius, Executive Director of MSCMC, explains. “She is a caring person who is willing to sit with many people who are experiencing difficult times in their lives, in the midst of conflict. Jan is a very humble person.”
In addition to working with MSCMC, Hardin also spends her time volunteering for Character Counts Mid Shore, which is a non-profit character education organization serving Talbot, Dorchester, and Caroline counties.
Once a month Hardin is required to attend a high school homeroom as a Character Coach and work with a classroom over the course of a year. Character Counts has six pillars of character in their program including trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. Hardin has been a volunteer for the program for more than 10 years.
“I feel that mediation makes me a better person,” Hardin admits. “It makes me better with all the situations you run into in life. We’re always looking for people that have a heart to get involved.”
For more information on the Mid Shore Community Mediation Center, visit midshoremediation.org.