VOLUME 2 NO. 4 | Winter 2016
Quarterly E-Newsletter
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A Light for Peace

The holidays are a special time of year. As a child I looked forward to opening presents with my family and spending the day laughing and playing with my sister and cousins. My parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and a host of aunts and uncles shared stories about family events and good times with friends. As I have gotten older, the holidays have become a time of reflection and quiet contemplation. Many of the voices of my childhood are now deceased, but continue to speak to me through many wonderful memories. When my adopted Grandma A passed in 1992 at the age of 91, my family began lighting a candle of remembrance in honor of our loved ones. The lighting of the candle is a symbol of remembrance and appreciation of the uniqueness of each person and the important life-lessons they shared.
I read that Christmas and Hanukkah will overlap this year for the first time in 40 years. And I could not help but reflect on the use of light and candles that will be lit in homes around the world this holiday season. Christians have been lighting Advent candles, and the first candle of the Menorah will be lit in homes all over the world this Saturday night. On the 26th, African-Americans will light their candleholder signifying the start of Kwanzaa. While not a religious celebration Kwanzaa is a week long celebration of family, community, and culture. 
 And as with Advent candles and the Menorah, each Kwanzaa candle represents one of the seven principles for a strong family and community. In fact, when we reflect on the use of candles and light we see that they play an important role in many of the world’s religions. The light is often a strong symbol of hope, enlightenment, prosperity, and knowledge in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, etc. 
Just as during Kwanzaa, the ritual of lighting candles in each of these religions helps to facilitate learning of important principles and concepts. Therefore, the reverence surrounding the lighting of candles during sacred and other important events appears to be a shared experience across many cultures practically since the beginning of time.
Buddha pointed out that “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
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Marketing Coordinator & Case Specialist

Annette Mendoza-Smith joined DRS North Texas as a case specialist in December of 2006. Later, Mrs. Mendoza-Smith was promoted to Case Specialist & Training Coordinator. As Training Coordinator, she worked to develop a successful expansion of the types and number of high quality mediation training provided by DRS North Texas. Additionally, she recruited, supervised, and coordinated over 40 volunteer mediation instructors and facilitators who are instrumental in providing training classes.
In 2015, Annette traded in her Training Coordinator hat, for that of Marketing Coordinator. Her willingness to take on new challenges resulted in the ability of DRS North Texas to launch an expansive marketing and public relations campaign in that same year. She has approached the many challenges of this new position with the same diligence, work ethic, and commitment to excellence that she displayed in her work as Training Coordinator, and that she continues to display as Case Specialist.
“Working at DRS North Texas has enabled me to fulfill one of my career goals to work for a non-profit that helps the local community,” says Mrs. Mendoza-Smith, “I believe in the mission of the agency and feel privileged to work at such a wonderful place with unmatched volunteers.” Annette’s co-workers as well as the many volunteers she works with on a daily basis, respect and greatly appreciate her for her : dedication to DRS North Texas and the mediation process, her willingness to take on new challenges, and her professionalism.
Annette Smith and husband Yancy Smith
She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications with a Spanish Minor from Texas A&M University. In her personal time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, family and friends, feeding her cinema addiction, and doting on her baby - a miniature Chihuahua named Grizzly.
Edited by Annette Mendoza-Smith


40-Hour Basic Mediation Training:

March 9 - 11 & 23 - 25, 2017


30-Hour Family Mediation Training:
April 7, 8, 21, & 22, 2017

Training fees and a training application are required to register.  Please visit  www.drsnorthtexas.org  for more details or to download an application.

Community Involvement

Spreading the word about mediation.

Boogie Fever Resource Fair
(Right to Left)
DRS North Texas Staffer Fran Lines meets with other non-profit representatives.
Dallas/Fort Worth Senior Synergy Expo
(Left to Right) Executive Director Jacquelyn Flynt, DRS North Texas Volunteer Mediator Jherre Williams, DRS North Texas Staffer Tonyel Amie
Keller ISD Safety and Drug Fair
DRS North Texas Volunteer Coordinator Linda Bass informs visitor of the benefits of mediating disputes.

#3 Keeping Up Appearances

Imagine this scenario, mediation is beginning, the mediators explain the mediation process and the rules for the session. In the middle of the opening remarks, the mediators ask, “Do either of you know me or my co-mediator or have any reason to feel we cannot be fair and impartial?”

Party B replies, “Yes. I do.”

The mediators ask, “What reason do you have?”

Party B answers: “As I was walking to the restroom, I saw you and Party A engaged in a conversation as if you knew each other.”

The role of a mediator extends beyond just the times inside the mediation room. As shown in the above scenario, one party’s perception is that party’s reality.

Therefore, mediators should be mindful that engaging in casual conversation with one party prior to, at the end, or even during the session has the potential to create a perception of familiarity for the party who has not been engaged in casual conversation. A perception of familiarity can easily build to a feeling that the mediator is on the other party’s side or that they are at a disadvantage because of a lack of familiarity with the mediator.

THUMBS UP! Engage with parties equally before, during, and after a mediation session so as to maintain an appearance of neutrality and impartiality.

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!
Copyright © 2016 Dispute Resolution Services of North Texas, Inc., All rights reserved.

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