The power of a community

When Hurricane Michael made landfall in Mexico Beach, Fla., as a category 4 storm earlier this month, no one expected to return to the mass devastation it left behind in the small coastal community, especially court reporter Lisa Patrick. A photo of her standing on the cement slab that once supported her home made national news as the world saw and shared in the massive loss so many in the area had suffered.

“My first information came from Facebook, people posting different videos and destruction in Bay County and especially Mexico Beach where Lisa lived,” said Debbie Shoman Zirbel, RMR, owner of Steward & Shoman Court Reporting in Panama City, Fla., the firm Patrick is employed by.

“I could tell from the video that I saw that Lisa’s home was gone as I had been there several times and knew exactly where it was. I first saw the photograph of Lisa standing where her house used to be in a text from one of my court reporters. Even thinking of that brings tears to my eyes even now. It just broke my heart to see that,” she added.

Quick to help one of their own, Zirbel said that court reporter Michelle Smith, RMR, who also works for her firm, launched a GoFundMe page to benefit Patrick. Zirbel said she then posted the information on the Stewart & Shoman Facebook page and on the NCRA Firm Owners Listserv, as well as on the Listservs of other groups the firm belongs to. The response, she said, has been wonderful: “I received many calls and emails from other firm owners with offers of support. Their response was immediate when I posted on the NCRA Listserv. “

Zirbel said that she and Patrick had spoken on Monday before the storm made landfall about their evacuation plans.

“None of us really anticipated that the storm was going to be as bad as it was. As a firm owner I was really just thinking about being without power and internet for a while, and I went to Orlando so that I could answer work calls and emails. Lisa decided she would go to a hotel in Dothan. She brought her machine and computer but left many things in her home that, if she knew what was going to happen, she certainly would have taken,” Zirbel said. “Lisa is a woman of faith and has already secured a new apartment and is ready to start a new chapter.”

NCRA member Donna L. Collins, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, owner of Collins Realtime Reporting in Dallas, Texas, said the images of the devastation, particularly of Patrick at the site of where her home once stood, motivated her to contribute to the GoFundMe effort.

“We are like a family. When one member is down, we must raise them up,” she said. “Despite our differences on many issues, we all truly care about our fellow professionals.”

Patrick said she first heard about the GoFundMe effort when Zirbel asked for permission to share the photo of her standing where her house once stood that was on the internet.

“A photographer for Getty was in the area the first time I went back to my property, and he was photographing the obvious raw emotions of seeing everything gone. It was the Monday after the storm,” Patrick said.

To date, Patrick said that FEMA  (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has provided minimal help of just over $2,000, and that without the outpouring of help coming through the GoFundMe effort, she would have no idea what to do.

“There aren’t words to express how hopeless and devastated something like this makes you feel. I was devastated when it happened and found hope through the kindness of friends and strangers. It has meant more than words can say. There just aren’t words, only immense gratitude,” said Patrick.

Patrick added to her story that she has been divorced and single for nearly 20 years and relies on the salary she earns as a court reporter. She had recently purchased a lot in Mexico Beach and planned to build a small forever home.

“I work hard. I was a renter for many years. I always carried renter’s insurance. It was automatically charged on my credit card monthly — something I didn’t have to think about,” she said.

However, due to fraudulent activity on her credit card earlier in the year, Patrick had to change card numbers and forgot to update the insurance company. When she realized the policy automatically had canceled, it was after May 1, and insurance companies will not issue or renew policies between May and November due to the hurricane season, she explained.

“The one year I don’t have my insurance in place, a catastrophe like this happens. It’s surreal,” Patrick said.

“So to say I was devastated when I realized the magnitude of losing everything is an understatement. Debbie, Michelle, and the rest of my work family will forever be my heroes. They have come through for me in such a dark time and in such a huge way,” Patrick added. “People in your life tell you they love you. These girls show what true love is! I’m crying as I write this. I pray God repays them every day, because I know I never can. And I know He will!”

Visit the GoFundMe page for Lisa Patrick to donate. To ensure all that the full amount of all contributions benefit Patrick, consider making the donation on the page using a PayPal account.

NCRA member participates in local VHP project

On Oct. 18, Riverbend.com reported that NCRA member Jill Layton, RMR, an official court reporter from Toledo, Ill., represented the Illinois Court Reporters Association at a recent VHP event hosted by the Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

Read more.

NCRA Board Member participates in elementary school mock trial

NCRA Board Member Cindy L. Isaacsen, RPR, an official court reporter from Olathe, Kan., participated in a mock trial with fifth- and sixth-graders hosted on Oct. 10, by the Santa Fe Trail Elementary School in Shawnee Mission, Kan. The students sat with Johnson County judges, attorneys, a deputy court administrator, and Isaacsen, who helped the students determine if Goldilocks, from “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” was guilty of a crime. These professionals visited the school to talk to students about the Constitution and branches of government.

Read more.

Watch the video.

NCRA A to Z Program offered in Oklahoma

Tulsa World reported on Sept. 30 that the Oklahoma Court Reporters Association is holding a free NCRA A TO ZTM Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program beginning Oct. 8.

Read more.

NCRF receives $25,000 grant to support VHP

Marcia Ferranto and Judge Michael Cicconetti

On Sept. 20, the Hon. Michael Cicconetti of the Painesville Municipal Court, Painesville, Ohio, presented NCRA CEO and Executive Director Marcia Ferranto with a $25,000 check in support of the National Court Reporters Foundation’s (NCRF) Veterans History Project efforts during a visit to the Association’s Reston, Va., headquarters.

The grant was generated from money remaining from a class action suit. Funds that go unclaimed in such suits are typically placed in a trust fund by the legal firm representing the plaintiffs. Once the funds have been disbursed, any remaining money is either distributed as grants to nonprofit and charity organizations, or in some cases, returned to the defendants.

“The work that NCRF and the members of NCRA do to help ensure the valuable stories of our war heroes are preserved for generations to come through the Library of Congress Veterans History Project is priceless,” said Cicconetti, who is a past NCRF Trustee and longtime supporter of the court reporting and captioning professions. Cicconetti suggested that the Foundation apply for the grant.

“This grant will go far in helping these committed volunteers to continue to be able to capture these important historical stories for our children and their children to read and better understand and appreciate the many sacrifices those who serve in our military forces make to keep this nation safe and free,” added Cicconetti, who has been recognized nationally and internationally for his creative sentencing strategies.

“It is an honor to have Judge Cicconetti as such a good friend and supporter of the Foundation and its programs and of the court reporting and captioning professions. He understands how important the human factor in these professions is to ensuring an accurate record is made and in the benefits these stenographic skills can provide to the Deaf and hard of hearing,” said NCRF Deputy Executive Director B.J. Shorak.

Since 2003, NCRA members who volunteer their services have worked with NCRF and the Library of Congress to record and transcribe the moving stories of nearly 4,300 U.S. war veterans, building a lasting legacy of the diverse group of men and women who have served our nation during wartime. The interviews are then submitted to the Library of Congress, where they are archived for later use by scholars, students, and future generations.

The interviews have been taken during special VHP days held around the country and hosted by state and local court reporting associations, firms, and individuals. Nationally, NCRF has hosted a number of VHP events as well that have captured the unique and telling stories of veterans from World War II forward, as well as Purple Heart recipients. NCRF has also hosted three Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project events, supported by a grant from the American Society of Association Executives, that used volunteer captioners to enable veterans with varying degrees of hearing loss to be interviewed so their experiences could be chronicled.

“The VHP allows us to highlight a way that we can give back to society as court reporters and captioners by helping to preserve history,” said NCRA Executive Director and CEO Marcia Ferranto. “It also allows us to build a greater awareness of the important work and skills of court reporters and captioners around the country.”

The Foundation will host a VHP event at the Ginger Cove Retirement Community located in Annapolis, Md., near the U.S. Naval Academy, on Sat., Nov. 10. For more information or to volunteer to participate, contact Sharon Davoren, Foundation Assistant, at sdavoren@ncra.org. NCRA members who volunteer for VHP events can earn Professional Development Credits.

Firm owners donate Convention swag

The NCRA Student/Teacher Committee is grateful to the many people who generously donated to the student swag bags at the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo in New Orleans, La. Last February, the Committee sent out a call to the NCRA Firm Owners email list, asking firms to donate a little something extra (or “lagniappe” in New Orleans-speak) for the bags. Planet Depos sent in a great backpack, and the goodies kept pouring in to fill them up. Other Firm Owners donated pens, travel mugs, mouse pads, hand sanitizers, pens, sticky notes, keyboard brushes, pencil cases, candy, and more!

The Student/Teacher Committee would like to thank the following donors who contributed to this year’s student swag bags:

  • Alaris
  • Benchmark Reporting Agency
  • Doris. O. Wong & Associates, Inc.
  • Hanson Renaissance Reporting & Video
  • Jack W. Hunt & Associates
  • Kay Moody, MCRI, CPE
  • LNS Court Reporting & Legal Video
  • Memory Reporting, Inc.
  • O’Brien & Levine
  • OrangeLegal
  • Planet Depos
  • Rider & Associates, Inc.
  • Schmitt Reporting & Video, Inc.
  • Streski Reporting & Video Service
  • Summit City Reporting
  • U.S. Legal Support
  • West Coast Court Reporting & Video
  • Wood & Randall
  • YOM

NCRA member Donna Cascio wins Angels drawing

Donna Cascio

NCRA member Donna Cascio, FAPR, RDR, CMRS, a retired official court reporter from Somerset, Pa., was the lucky winner of the 2019 NCRF Angels drawing for a weeklong stay in one of three luxury resorts in Mexico.

“When B.J. Shorak and April Weiner from the Foundation contacted me, I just couldn’t believe it,” Cascio said. “I was sent the Facebook Live link and watched the video and saw B.J. read my name – ‘Donna Cascio from Pennsylvania!’ — I could tell she was excited for me and it really felt good. B.J. has been a jewel and a treasure for the Foundation. When you have someone as dedicated, as persuasive, and as sweet as she is carrying the message of support for students, a person just can’t say no,” she added.

Cascio said she has been in touch with Denise Paternoster, RPR, who donated the weeklong stay at the choice of one of three Mexican resorts in Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, or Nuevo Vallarta, to learn more about the properties and schedule her trip. Paternoster, an official court reporter from New York, N.Y., is also an Angel donor and serves on NCRF’s Angels Committee.

Cascio, who retired in March after 45 years as an official court reporter, said she and her husband have long been supporters of NCRF and its programs but noted that becoming a 2019 Angel donor marked just their second time at that level.

“I have been encouraged to support NCRF by my association and friendship with wonderful veteran reporters who make such support a priority in their lives — people such as Tiva Wood, FAPR, RDR, CMRS, and Jan Hamilton, RDR, both former NCRF Chairs; Marjorie Peters, RMR, CRR; Kathy DiLorenzo, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC; Amy Bowlen, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC; and Lisa Nagy-Baker, FAPR, RDR, CRR,” Cascio said.

“My friendships with the teaching staff at the Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh — Mary Beth Johnson, CRI; Val Cox, CRI; and Barbara Lightcap, RDR, CRI — convey to me the support necessary for reporting students. We all understand the importance of our profession and do what we can to support reporter education and students,” Cascio added. “After 45 years as an official reporter, this trip will be a wonderful way to celebrate retirement — choosing a time unconstrained by a court schedule.”

The Angels Program continues to be the most impactful component of the National Court Reporters Foundation’s annual campaign, as it supports four key initiatives that are advancing the court reporting and captioning professions:

NCRA member in the news

The Ocala Star Banner posted on Sept. 3 that NCRF appointed NCRA member Catherine J. Phillips, FAPR, RMR, CMRS, a freelance court reporter from Ocala, Fla., to serve a three-year term on its board of trustees. The post was generated by a press release issued on Phillips’ behalf by NCRA.

Read more.

Don’t let the deadline to enter to win a weeklong stay in Mexico fly by

Villa del Palmar in Cabo San Lucas

Midnight on Aug. 29 is the deadline to pledge support for NCRF by becoming a 2019 Angel donor and to be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a weeklong stay in one of three luxury resorts in Mexico.

Angels who pledge or sign up for recurring donations by Aug. 29 will be entered into a drawing for a weeklong stay at their choice of one of three Mexican resorts in Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, or Nuevo Vallarta, generously donated by Angel and Angels Committee member Denise Paternoster, RPR.

Villa del Palmar in Puerto Vallarta

The Angels Program continues to be the most impactful component of the National Court Reporters Foundation’s annual campaign, as it supports four key initiatives that are advancing the court reporting and captioning professions:

Sign up online or by filling out a 2019 Pledge Letter.

Villa del Palmar in Neuvo Vallarte

“Please support the NCRF, the National Court Reporters Foundation, by contributing to the future of court reporting and captioning. Being an Angel makes a substantial difference in the programs and our efforts going forward to address the issues our profession is experiencing. Offering your financial support to NCRF as an Angel also continues the support of the programs we have led for many years: The Veterans History Project, the education of attorneys in Making the Record, and new professional and student scholarships. Be an Angel!” said Sandy VanderPol, FAPR, RMR, CRR, NCRF Trustee and Angel.

Marjorie A. Peters Recognized with 2018 Santo J. Aurelio Award for Altruism

Nancy Hopp and Marjorie Peters

NCRA member Marjorie A. Peters, RMR, CRR, a freelance court reporter and firm owner from Pittsburgh, Pa., was honored with the 2018 Santo J. Aurelio Award for Altruism. The award was presented by NCRF during NCRA’s Convention & Expo held Aug. 2-5 in New Orleans, La.

The Aurelio Award is given to a working court reporter with more than 25 years of experience who has given back to the profession and to the court reporting community with no expectation of any reward.

“Receiving the Santo Aurelio Award was an emotional and overwhelming moment, only made better because I was able to share it in person with so many friends and colleagues who offered their heartfelt congratulations and kind words.  When I see photos on Facebook, I continue to be deeply touched,” said Peters, who owns Marjorie Peters Court Reporting.

“When I look at past years’ awardees, I am in awe to be included now in their company and then even more humbled that my dear friends nominated me and saw it through,” she added.

At the national level, Peters has presented numerous times at NCRA’s annual Convention & Expo as well as has served on a number of the Association’s committees. She is a longtime supporter of NCRF.

Active at the state level, she has served twice on the Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association Board of Directors. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Society for the Technological Advancement of Reporting (STAR) and has coordinated a number of Veterans History Project events to capture the stories of U.S. war veterans for the Library of Congress to preserve.

She has sponsored students at both the state and national levels for memberships and convention fees and often invites students from the court reporting program at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) into her home office to demonstrate live captioning.

Active in her community, Peters is a longtime volunteer with the Light of Life Rescue Mission, as well as the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Race, which benefits the Autism Society. She is also a lector at the Assumption Church in Bellevue, Pa.

“I feel Marjorie is the perfect example of the meaning of the word altruism – the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others,” said life-long friend Janis L. Ferguson, RPR, CRR, who was one of several of Peters’ peers to nominate her.

“She has demonstrated this time and time again through her concern for her family, her concern for her community, and her concern and passion for her chosen profession. It has been an honor to nominate her,” added Ferguson, a freelance court reporter from Erie, Pa.

“Marjorie’s work history is made up of every facet of our profession – judicial reporting, captioning, and freelance work. She does not hesitate to volunteer in every way she can manage for our school in western Pennsylvania, and is a great aid to CCAC,” wrote Donna Cascio, FAPR, RDR, CMRS, an official court reporter from Somerset, Pa., who also nominated Peters.

“She is a great ambassador for our profession — and for living with compassion and kindness on this planet,” Cascio added.

Peters said that each year, she continues to be inspired by court reporters, CART and broadcast captioners, and firm owners who offer themselves to build up the profession, as well as their communities, and offered the following words of encouragement: “Let us always be encouraged by each other. Always remember to allow yourself to be inspired, and that any act of kindness, no matter how small, is never wasted. Smile at a hard-working clerk. Act when action is needed. And give whenever you can. Your heart and mind will be most richly rewarded.”