This year, Mediation and Restorative Services, is celebrating their 35th anniversary. The non-profit organization serves residents in and around Anoka County.
Coon Rapids resident, Lonni McCauley, was a key founder of the organization back in 1987. To this day, she still works as a volunteer mediator.
"We started out with the community issues that had to do with neighbor to neighbor, neighbor to city, and how can they come together and agree to live more peaceably," McCauley said.
Today, Bernadette Foh, the executive director for MARS, leads a lean office staff which gets major support from a group of volunteer mediators.
"We currently have about 50 volunteers and about 42 active volunteers in total," Foh said.
The organization expanded to include restorative services, like community building and customized training, which can help build positive relationships, and connect people with the resources they need.
"At the heart of every conflict is poverty, because there are competing priorities,” Foh said. “And so that holistic approach has further widened our scope. We have formed collaborative partnerships with other organizations like the Salvation Army, and other food shelf organizations."
The mediation services they offer are voluntary, and often free to people living in the Anoka County area.
"We are here to make sure that we can help people come to peaceful solutions for issues that they face in their daily lives," Foh said.
Mediation and Restorative Services will be hosting a 35th Anniversary fundraiser, on Tuesday, October 18, from 4 pm to 7 pm, at Greenhaven Golf Course in Anoka. Check out their website, www.mediationservice.org for more information.