NCRA members reflect on transcribing oral histories from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

An elderly man is in the middle of speaking. He sits in front of a German newspaper projected behind him.

U.S. Dept. of Defense photo by Marvin Lynchard

Nearly 20 years ago, Michelle Keegan, RMR, CRR, of Quincy, Mass., and her husband visited the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. It was an unforgettable experience.

“There was very little talking amongst all of us tourists as we walked around the camp that day,” Keegan said. “Everybody seemed to keep looking at one another hoping that somebody would speak up and make sense of it all. Nobody did. On the bus ride back to the city, there was no light chatter. People were too overwhelmed.”

Years later, Keegan transcribed the account of one of the American soldiers whose battalion liberated Dachau.

“There were about 17,000 people still [in the camp] when they arrived,” Keegan said. “The horrific things that he relayed about some of the surroundings were what we had seen on our tour. He recounted that the battalion that had moved into the camp before his had been very overcome with emotion. He relayed about the soldiers, ‘They were so upset about what they saw that they actually lined up about 40 or 50 of these Nazi guards and just mowed them down with machine guns.’”

Transcribing this interview was part of the National Court Reporters Foundation’s (NCRF) agreement with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to have NCRA members preserve oral records from the museum’s collections. Since 2014, NCRA members have transcribed parts of more than 100 interviews from the museum’s collection of more than 200,000 records.

Hearing these eyewitnesses’ first-hand accounts puts a different perspective on what is taught in school and from history books.

“The most meaningful part of transcribing these interviews was actually becoming immersed into their life story as they’re describing the events that had happened to them,” said Megan Orris, RPR, an official from Beaver Springs, Pa. “The part of the interview I had to transcribe dealt with what this man endured right before he was liberated and then following his immigration to America and the life he had here. It was very interesting to listen to a real-life story and not something from a history textbook. It gave me a whole new perspective on life and being appreciative that I never had to go through what this man and others had during the Holocaust.”

Transcribing survivors’ accounts is a way to honor the victims, says Karen Shelton, RDR, CRR, a freelance reporter from Fort Worth, Texas.

“I have read the stories of Holocaust survivors for years and have visited Holocaust memorials in several places and have always found them deeply moving.  When the opportunity arose to transcribe the oral histories of survivors, I knew it was something I wanted to participate in.  As much as I have learned from educating myself about the history of that time and the plight of so many victims, I felt that transcribing some of their stories was something tangible I could do to honor their memories and to provide a written record for future generations to read,” Shelton said.

Some reporters who have never transcribed an interview of a Holocaust survivor may be hesitant to do so for emotional reasons.

“I was very anxious when I hit the play button on my first Holocaust interview. Would I be able to contain my emotion and get through whatever story I was going to hear?” Keegan said. “Just like in a deposition, I automatically switched into court reporter mode and listened for the words rather than the content the best that I could.”

Keegan and many other reporters are happy to have participated.

“I cannot fully express the gratitude that I have to be able to be a part of transcribing these stories.  I am humbled by the strength and courage of these men and women who sit and recount their stories so that the rest of us may understand this part of our history. The overwhelming appreciation that I have always had for the men and women of our Armed Forces has been strengthened by these interviews. In just a very tiny way, I feel that I have helped to preserve the stories of all of these people,” Keegan said.

Orris concurs: “Another meaningful part of transcribing these interviews was preserving their story. I think that has a whole new meaning in itself that we as reporters get to transcribe these stories, and they’re saved forever in the archives for people to read years from now. It gives you a special feeling to be able to have done something like this.”

For more information on NCRF’s Oral Histories Program and to get involved, visit NCRA.org/NCRF/OralHistories, or contact April Weiner, Foundation Manager, at aweiner@ncra.org.

NCRF hosts a second Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Veterans History Project

The National Court Reporters Foundation hosted a second Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project initiative on June 23 at the 2017 Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) Convention held in Salt Lake City, Utah. Volunteer court reporters, captioners, and interviewers turned out to help chronicle the service experiences of seven veterans, which will be transcribed for the U.S. Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP).

Four people sit around a table in a hotel conference room. Two women, in the back, are concentrating intently (while transcribing). In the foreground, two men are in conversation. The man on the right has war injuries, primarily seen on his face.

Retired Staff Sgt. Shilo Harris (front right), who received life threatening injuries while serving in Iraq, is interviewed by retired Lt. Lynn Hinckley (front left). Cecilee G. Wilson (back right) provides CART while Amber Fraass (back left) transcribes.

Among those interviewed was HLAA convention keynote speaker retired Staff Sgt. Shilo Harris, who served in the U.S. Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He suffered severe third degree burns on 35 percent of his body after his armored vehicle was struck by an IED in February 2007.

Harris’s injuries also included the loss of both ears, the tip of his nose, three fingers, and numerous broken bones. The devastating injuries required that he remain in a medically induced coma for 48 days; after, he spent nearly three years recovering and undergoing intensive physical therapy at the burn unit of Brooklyn Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, Texas. Harris received numerous awards for his service including a Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal three times.

While at BAMC, he was the first soldier to participate in cutting-edge regenerative stem-cell research to regrow his fingers, and later received prosthetic ears. His recovery has involved more than 75 surgeries. He also has suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD. In 2010, Harris was medically retired from the Army. He is now a motivational speaker and author of Steel Will: My Journey through Hell to Become the Man I Was Meant to Be.

“If it isn’t written down, it did not happen,” said retired Lt. Lynn Hinckley, who served 26 years with the U.S. Army National Guard and volunteered to interview Harris.

“My personal takeaway is that stories are important and allow us to pass on our heritage. Personal stories are just that, personal; they carry a power that nothing else can match.”

Hinckley also had the opportunity to interview Randal “Randy” Nelson, a retired U.S. Army Colonel who served during both Gulf Wars including deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nelson earned many awards over the course of his service, including two Bronze Stars and three Legion of Merit awards. Originally from South Dakota, Nelson now resides in North Carolina. During his interview he shared how he lost his hearing in his left ear during a Jet Ski accident, but was allowed to continue his military career by overcoming balance issues and learning to rely on his right ear.

During the interviews, the two veterans were able to connect having both served in the same locations in Iraq, a connection that appeared to help the interviewer and interviewee draw upon a camaraderie that is inherent among veterans.

Four people sit around a table in a hotel conference room. In the back is a middle-aged woman concentrating while transcribing on a steno machine. On the left and right are two men -- one younger, one older, in conversation. In the foreground is the back of a yong woman; her steno machine is in front of her and a laptop is on the table with the spoken words appearing on the screen in real time.

Retired Marine Corp combat veteran Don Doherty (left) is interviewed by Patrick Holkins (right). Amber Fraass transcribes (middle), while Phoebe Moorehead (far right) provides CART.

“This project provides an opportunity for nonveterans to get a feel for what military life is like. This is information that would have died with the veteran if not for this project,” said Hinckley.

Other veterans interviewed during the event included:

  • Don Doherty, a retired Marine Corps combat veteran, who lost his hearing during the Vietnam War and has worn hearing aids since 1970. Over the course of his service, Doherty earned the Combat Action Ribbon, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, and the Presidential Unit Citation. He has worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs for more than 20 years and currently serves as the vice-chairperson for HLAA. He resides in Moyock, N.C., and was interviewed by fellow HLAA board member Patrick Holkins, an attorney from Washington, D.C.
  • Mike Wehman, a Radioman 2nd Class and Shellback, who served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He served on the Charles S. Sperry destroyer ship, the Wright communications ship, and the Benewah – floating command center in the Mekong Delta. Wehman earned the Vietnam Service Medal and National Defense Service Medal. He resides in Des Plaines, Ill.
  • Retired Lt. Commander Ron Tallman, who served 22 years in the U.S. Navy. He served during the Vietnam and first Gulf War and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and Meritorious Service Medal, among others He is a board member of the Sun Lakes, Ariz., HLAA chapter and co-chair for the Arizona Walk4Hearing. He is originally from Seattle, Wash., and resides in Arizona.
  • Gerald “Jerry” Hutch, who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Cold War/pre-Vietnam era as an Airman 1st Class E-4. He was born in McKees Rocks, Pa., and served his entire tour of duty in Texas. He currently resides in Helena, Mont. Hutch is legally blind due to age-related macular degeneration has severe hearing loss in both ears, and uses digital hearing aids.
  • Louis Shaup, who served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War as an SP4 and E-4. He served in the Military Assistance Advisory Group Vietnam, conducting top-secret Army intelligence. Shaup earned several awards for his service, including the Vietnam Service Medal. He was born in Ashland, Penn., and now resides in California.

“This interview opportunity was an incredibly profound experience for me,” said Matthew R. Barusch, NCRA’s Manger of State Government Relations, who volunteered to talk with U.S. Army veteran Louis Shaup.

“The opportunity to hear a firsthand account of Louis’ wartime experience was both moving and humbling, and for me, reinforced the necessity of the Veterans History Project. These veterans, who sacrificed a lot to serve our country, deserve to have their stories heard and preserved, and I was honored to be a part of that preservation,” Barusch said.

Interviewers and captioners from Utah who also volunteered their time to support the NCRF event included NCRA members:

  • Amber Fraass, RPR, a freelance reporter from South Ogden
  • Heidi Hunter, RPR, a freelance reporter from Salt Lake City
  • Kristin E. Marchant, RPR, a freelance reporter from South Jordan
  • Phoebe Moorhead; RPR, a freelance reporter from North Ogden
  • Rossann Morgan, RPR, a freelance court reporter from West Jordan
  • Ariel Mumma, RPR, a freelance court reporter from Salt Lake City
  • Michelle Naert, RPR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner from Saratoga Springs
  • Lindsay Payeur, RPR, a freelance reporter from Grantsville
  • Laurie Shingle, RPR, CMRS, from Pleasant View
  • Cecilee G. Wilson, RDR, CRR, CRC, a broadcast captioner from Kaysville

NCRF’s Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project initiative specifically seeks to interview veterans with hearing loss with the help of CART captioning. Hearing loss is among the most common service-related injuries due to constant exposure to loud noises in training and in combat, and it tends to worsen over time. In addition to preserving these veterans’ stories for the VHP, the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project introduces CART captioning, which is a service that may benefit these veterans in their daily lives.

NCRF launched the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project at HLAA’s headquarters in Bethesda, Md., in February, where five veterans with varying degrees of hearing loss chronicled their service experiences.

NCRA members have been listening and taking down veterans’ stories since NCRF partnered with the Library of Congress in 2003 to have court reporters transcribe veterans’ stories from their collection of now more than 100,000. In 2007, members were asked to preserve the stories of veterans who hadn’t yet recorded their histories through personal interviews and VHP Days. To date, NCRF has submitted more than 4,100 transcripts to the Library of Congress.

NCRF’s Hard-of-Hearing Heroes initiative is supported by an Innovation Grant from the American Society of Association Executives Foundation. Two more Hard-of-Hearing Heroes events will take place at the Military Order of the Purple Heart National Convention being held in Dallas, Texas, in August, and at the Association of Late-Deafened Adults annual convention being held in Orlando, Fla. in October. NCRF is currently seeking volunteers to participate at both of these events. For more information, please visit NCRA.org/NCRF, or contact April Weiner, Foundation Manager, at aweiner@ncra.org.

National Court Reporters Foundation Trustees announced

NCRF logoThe NCRA Board of Directors elected the following individuals to the 2017-2018 National Court Reporters Foundation Board of Trustees: Danielle Griffin, RPR, Phoenix, Ariz.; Karen G. Teig, RPR, CRR, CMRS, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Sandy VanderPol, FAPR, RMR, CRR, Lotus, Calif.

Danielle Griffin represents the future of the profession and can aid NCRF in its continued focus on helping students finish court reporting school and new reporters acquire the opportunities to thrive in the profession. She grew up in the court reporting field, working in her mother’s firm in Phoenix from the time she was in middle school, an experience that gives her more in-depth understanding of the business and profession than the average new reporter. As a new reporter with diverse experience and contacts, Griffin commits fully to everything she does. Griffin comes from a culture of volunteerism and strong fundraising experience and understands the value of networking and using those contacts to help make whatever she’s tasked with successful.

Karen Teig has extensive experience volunteering and serving on boards in both her personal or professional life, and she has had specific training on how to advocate for a philanthropic project. This has given her a thorough understanding of what it takes to be both a worker and a leader. She has served on numerous state and national committees; is a past state and national board member; and is past president of her state association. Teig has a true spirit of giving back and has been a long-time supporter of NCRF, whether promoting NCRF during state rep visits; transcribing histories for the VHP program; helping raise funds through her service on the Angels Drive Committee; or donating to NCRF through the Angels program.

Sandy VanderPol is a committed volunteer who has contributed extensively to the profession by writing articles, giving presentations, and serving on many court reporting association committees and boards. She has strong leadership experience, having been president of both her local and state court reporting associations. VanderPol’s accomplishments are well-known as the recipient of NCRA’s Distinguished Service Award, and she is highly respected within the NCRA membership for her work ethic, ability to think outside the box, and intimate knowledge of and passion for the profession.

The NCRF Trustees will begin their three-year terms on Aug. 12, 2017, at the annual NCRF Board of Trustees meeting that will take place in conjunction with the NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev. The Nominating Committee thanks all candidates for their dedication to the profession and congratulates the new Trustees.

Call for Altruism Award nominations

Jan Ballman presents Pat Graves with the 2016 Aurelio Award

Jan Ballman presents Pat Graves with the 2016 Aurelio Award

Nominations are now being accepted for the Santo J. Aurelio Award for Altruism, the highest honor awarded by the National Court Reporters Foundation. The deadline for nominations is July 7.

The Aurelio Award, which is presented at the NCRA Convention & Expo, is bestowed on a long-time court reporter who has given back selflessly to the profession or community. The nominee must be an NCRA Participating or Registered member or a Retired Participating or Registered member, have demonstrated altruistic behavior, and have been a working reporter for at least 25 years.

“For me, being recognized by my peers was and continues to be a professional highlight,” said Pat Graves, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner and firm owner from Monument, Colo., and the 2016 Aurelio Award recipient.

“To hear the heartfelt words of people I work with and serve is both humbling and startling! I always think I fly under the radar and that no one notices me or what I do,” Graves said.

“It is with dedication and care that one’s peers send in a nomination and then do all the follow-up work required for this award or really any award bestowed upon NCRA members. I encourage my colleagues to please consider nominating someone you know for this award. You never know how much it will mean to them,” she added.

For questions or more information about the Santo J. Aurelio Award for Altruism, contact B.J. Shorak, NCRF Deputy Executive Director, at 800-272-6272, ext. 126, or at bjshorak@ncra.org.

Nominate now.

NCRF’s Purple Heart Veterans History Project earns top honors

BowStern representatives Ashleigh Flanders and Amanda Handley hold three awards -- two plaques and a trophy

BowStern representatives Ashleigh Flanders (left) and Amanda Handley (right) hold the Golden Image Awards recognizing NCRF’s Purple Heart Veterans History Project event

NCRF’s efforts to commemorate National Purple Heart Day by hosting a Veterans History Project event during the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo held in Chicago, Ill., last August have earned top honors in the Golden Image Awards sponsored by the Florida Public Relations Association’s (FPRA) Capital Chapter.

The NCRF Purple Heart event recently earned an Image Award, a Judges Award, and a Grand Image Award, which is the highest award given, in the category of Printed Tools of Public Relations-News Release. NCRA’s external public relations firm BowStern, which is based in Tallahassee, Fla., nominated NCRA’s effort for the award.

The Purple Heart event, which was sponsored in part by AristoCat, captured the stories of eight Purple Heart recipients from Chicago and the surrounding area for preservation at the Library of Congress as part of the Veterans History Project collection. The event also drew significant media coverage, including:

More recently, the NCRF Purple Heart effort was showcased in the December 2016 issue of Convene magazine as well as in a May article that appeared in Associations Now.

NCRF has been invited to host a Veterans History Project event at the Military Order of the Purple Heart’s annual convention taking place in mid-August in Dallas, Texas.

For more information about NCRF’s Oral History Program, visit NCRA.org/NCRF.

NCRF announces 2017 Robert H. Clark Scholarship and New Professional Reporter Grant recipients

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) has announced that Valerie Melkus, RPR, Charleston, S.C., was named recipient of the 2017 New Professional Reporter Grant. The Foundation also announced that Laurel Stalnaker, a student from Sumner College in Portland, Ore., is the recipient of the 2017 Robert H. Clark Scholarship.

“I am honored and thrilled to be the recipient of the New Professional Reporter Grant, though I’m certain that every person who applied is just as deserving. Starting out as a new reporter is tough. Anyone who’s made it this far has been working his or her behind off,” said Melkus. “I’ve been using an old, noisy, slow, refurbished laptop for work. This grant will enable me to not only pay my bills, but I will finally be able to get myself a new computer. I am beyond grateful.”

NCRF awards the annual New Professional Reporter Grant to a reporter who is in his or her first year of work, has graduated within a year from an NCRA-approved court reporting program, and meets specific criteria, including a grade point average of 3.5 or above, a letter of recommendation, and active work in any of the career paths of judicial (official/freelance), CART, or captioning. Melkus, a graduate of the College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind., is the 13th recipient of NCRF’s New Professional Reporter Grant. She was recommended by J. Lynn Clark, RMR, president of Clark & Associates.

“I have been reporting and training new reporters since 1979. Valerie has been the most impressive new reporter I have ever had the pleasure to work with,” Clark wrote in her recommendation. “I feel like I have hit a court reporting home run with [Valerie]. She loves learning new things and implementing them in her writing. Her enthusiasm for court reporting is contagious!”

Laurel Stalnaker

Laurel Stalnaker

The $2,000 Robert H. Clark Scholarship is named for the late Robert H. (Bob) Clark, a court reporter from Los Angeles, Calif., who was dedicated to preserving the history of the profession. Stalnaker is the third recipient of this scholarship.

“I am humbled to have won this scholarship, and I am grateful to have been nominated by my instructor. It will allow me to invest in myself in my new profession,” said Stalnaker. “I have been in school for two years now, and since day one I have been using an older student steno machine. Lately it has been having connectivity issues during class and, even worse, during tests. Recently I have been looking to buy a newer model for reporting professionally since I am only three tests away from graduating, and this scholarship will allow me to start my career on a positive note. I am eager to invest in a newer model and to excel in my last exams before I graduate.”

Students are nominated by instructors or other officials at their schools. To be eligible, nominees must be NCRA members, enrolled in an NCRA-approved court reporting program, have passed at least one of their program’s Q&A tests at 200 words per minute, and possess a GPA of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale, among other criteria.

“Laurel has been, from day one, nothing less than a very devoted student. Her attendance has been superb, and her commitment to this program has never once wavered,” said Jacqueline Butler, CRI, who nominated Stalnaker. “She has stayed focused on the end result. I have no doubts whatsoever that she will make a great reporter. She takes her work very seriously and makes sure she learns all she can along the way. It’s wonderful to see her win this award!”

To learn more about NCRF’s scholarships and grants, visit NCRA.org/NCRF/Scholarships.

Preserving history

Tiva Wood (left) interviews Edward Connor, while Michelle Houston provides CART.

Tiva Wood (left) interviews Edward Connor while Michelle Houston provides CART.

NCRF’s new Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project takes the Veterans History Project to the next level

By April Weiner

Edward Connor was dining in the mess hall when the Japanese bombed his base during World War II. Everyone was running for cover in a nearby ditch. “I landed on a guy and said to him: ‘As soon as we get out of this, I’ll take my feet out of your face,’” Major Connor told NCRA President Tiva Wood, FAPR, RDR, CMRS, who was interviewing him for the Veterans History Project (VHP). “He said, ‘You leave your feet where they is,’” since the feet were protecting the other soldier’s head. Major Connor lost most of his hearing when one of the bombs struck an airplane close to the ditch, but that didn’t prevent him from finishing his mission before returning home to seek treatment.

Connor, who served in the Air Force, was one of five veterans with varying degrees of hearing loss who chronicled their service experiences for the VHP at the National Court Reporters Foundation’s launch of its Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project at the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) headquarters in Bethesda, Md., on Saturday, Feb. 18. The other veterans interviewed were: Fred Becchetti, who served in the Army Air Corps in World War II; David McWatters, who served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War; Charles Rupprecht, who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War; and James Whitcraft, who served in the Air Force during the Persian Gulf War, among other conflicts. (Rupprecht and Whitcraft were interviewed over the phone.)

Glynis Locks takes down the interview of Charles Rupprecht.

Glynis Locks takes down the interview of Charles Rupprecht.

Court reporters and captioners traveled from as far as southern Virginia and Pennsylvania to volunteer their time and skills to preserve these veterans’ experiences for the VHP.

“Veterans always thank the court reporters who capture and transcribe their stories at events like the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project,” said Wood, who is a freelancer based in Mechanicsburg, Pa. “But truly, we are the ones who are thankful for being given the opportunity to honor them by ensuring that their stories become part of history forever through the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. Being able to capture and preserve the stories of our war heroes who are hard of hearing takes a combined effort of the skills of court reporters and captioners and highlights the important role they play in allowing this group of veterans to tell their stories.”

In addition to Wood, the volunteers at the event were Cheryl Hansberry, RDR, CRR, CRC, Harrisburg, Pa., and her husband, Mike; Linda Larson, RPR, CRI, Carlisle, Pa.; Glynis Locks, Norfolk, Va.; Michelle Houston, RPR, Brandywine, Md.; Karyn Menck, RDR, CRR, CRC, Nashville, Tenn.; Jan Hamilton, RDR, Arnold, Md.; Christina Hotsko, RPR, Arlington, Va.; and Meredith Dattoli, Bethesda, Md.

Hamilton transcribed Major Connor’s interview: “The most memorable thing for me was hearing [Connor] speak of the various battles, in the air and on the ground, and his bravery that led to him ultimately being awarded the Silver Star. It was a humbling experience to meet a decorated soldier of this era.”

Dattoli interviewed Rupprecht, and the experience was personally meaningful for her. “The most interesting part of our conversation to me was the fact that his hearing loss was the result of an accident,” said Dattoli. “He was only 21 or 22 when, while participating in training exercises, he happened to be right next to a missile that accidentally went off, which led to the hearing loss that he still experiences today, more than 40 years later. In the grand scheme of things, he was lucky that nothing worse happened, but his story really opened my eyes to how much the men and women in our military sacrifice every day, even if they aren’t on the front lines.” She added: “Having the opportunity to interview Mr. Rupprecht and hearing his story hit especially close to home for me because my older brother is in the Navy and my boyfriend is in the Army, and I have a higher appreciation now for how lucky they have been.”

From L to R: Cheryl Hansberry transcribes as Mike Hansberry interviews Fred Becchetti, while Michelle Houston provides CART.

From L to R: Cheryl Hansberry transcribes as Mike Hansberry interviews Fred Becchetti, while Michelle Houston provides CART.

NCRA members have been listening and taking down veterans’ stories since NCRF partnered with the Library of Congress in 2003 to have court reporters transcribe veterans’ stories from their collection of now more than 100,000 oral histories. In 2013, members were asked to preserve the stories of veterans who hadn’t yet recorded their histories through personal interviews and VHP Days. To date, NCRF has submitted more than 4,100 transcripts to the Library of Congress.

“This was one of those special moments in life where I was doing something for someone else,” said Larson. “[McWatters’] story will be preserved because I was there providing court reporting and then later transcribed it. His story will be stored at the Library of Congress and be a part of history.”

The Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project is a new NCRF initiative that specifically seeks to interview veterans with hearing loss for the VHP with the help of CART captioning. This is important because hearing loss is among the most common service-related injuries due to constant exposure to loud noises in training and in combat. Hearing loss also tends to worsen over time. In addition to preserving these veterans’ stories for the VHP, the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project introduces CART captioning, which is a service that may benefit these veterans in their daily lives.

“One can’t help but become engrossed while listening to these amazing veterans tell their stories as if it were yesterday,” said Houston. “[Major Connor’s] wife reminded him to share events and awards he had left out to ensure we got the whole story. We were eager to hear it as well. It was a privilege and an honor to provide CART captioning for this project.”

Washington D.C.’s news channel NBC4 came to the event and heard from two of the veterans interviewed, Becchetti and McWatters, as well as NCRF Deputy Executive Director B.J. Shorak. “I was surprised to be on the Channel 4 News so much and that it was mostly as a hand model,” said Larson. “It was one of those days where you just don’t know what you’re getting into and you leave feeling like, I’m happy that I was there. It was a good day.”

From left to right: Michelle Houston, Sarah Connor, Edward Connor, Tiva Wood, and Jan Hamilton.

From left to right: Michelle Houston, Sarah Connor, Edward Connor, Tiva Wood, and Jan Hamilton.

NCRF will host Hard-of-Hearing Heroes VHP Days across the country, supported by an Innovation Grant from the American Society of Association Executives Foundation. The next event will be held during HLAA’s annual convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, in June, and a third event is planned in conjunction with the Association of Late-Deafened Adults’ annual convention, which will be held in Orlando, Fla., in October.

For more information, please visit NCRA.org/NCRF.

April Weiner is the National Court Reporters Foundation Manager. She can be reached for more information at aweiner@ncra.org.

Volunteers raise more than $28,500 during NCRF’s annual fundraising phone-a-thon

PhoneAthon_cropped

L-R: Joan McQuinn, Jackie Timmons, Jane Fitzgerald, and Teresa Kordick

Six court reporters and one court reporting student from across the country raised more than $28,500 during the National Court Reporting Foundation’s annual fundraising phone-a-thon held between April 26 and May 5. The seven volunteers made thousands of calls and generated individual donations ranging from $10 to $1,000.

NCRF’s annual phone-a-thon supports NCRF’s programs, including:

“With the ever-changing field of court reporting, and the many obstacles we are facing, we all need to support our profession. We need the Foundation to fight for us, to inform the legal community of our invaluable contribution to their work. NCRF does this and so much more,” said Lorene R. Eppley, RPR, who contributed to this year’s phone-a-thon.

Eppley, owner of Eppley Court Reporting, Hopedale, Mass., said she would encourage others to support the Foundation by reminding them how proud they are of their profession. “Giving to the NCRF – particularly now – is far more than paying your dues and moving on. If we fail to join together, there may be nowhere to move on to,” she added.

Kathy Cortopassi on the phone sitting at a desk

Kathy Cortopassi calling during the NCRF phone-a-thon

Volunteers for this year’s effort included Kathy Cortopassi, RMR, CRR, CRC, Crown Point, Ind.; NCRF Trustee Jane Fitzgerald, RMR, Pleasant Hill, Iowa; NCRF Trustee Teresa Kordick, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI, CPE, Des Moines, Iowa; NCRF Trustee Joan McQuinn, RPR, CMRS, Rockford, Ill.; Jackie Timmons, FAPR, RDR, Darien, Ill.; and NCRA President Tiva Wood, FAPR, RDR, CMRS, Mechanicsburg, Pa. Also volunteering for this year’s fundraiser was Cortopassi’s daughter, Amanda Clidence, who is a court reporting student.

Long-time volunteer Timmons said she believes aiding in the phone-a-thon is a way to give back to the profession. She has met and made great friends through her work and looks forward to seeing them each time she participates. As to why the phone-a-thon is so successful each year, Timmons said, “We are people calling our peers. We are not just people hired to fundraise.”

Eppley, who volunteered during NCRF’s 1997 phone-a-thon, agrees. “It was difficult, no doubt, cold-calling for money. Yet, ultimately, donors often told me it was the best telemarketing phone call they’d ever received! It was for me. I have donated every year since.”

Kordick, who has also volunteered for previous NCRF phone-a-thons, said doing so is a way for her to give her time to an organization that does so much to promote reporting and captioning. “Besides being a good way to raise funds, I love working with other reporters from around the country and also interacting with the incredible staff at NCRA.”

“The phone-a-thon is a way to talk one-on-one with reporters and others about the importance of the Foundation’s philanthropic mission. It’s also a way for our donors to ask questions and donate at whatever level they are comfortable with,” Kordick added.

According to B.J. Shorak, NCRF Deputy Executive Director, the Foundation’s annual phone-a-thon began in the mid-1990s and has relied on using member volunteers to make the call rather than an outside company because of the high success rate of peer-to-peer outreach.

If the volunteers missed you during the phone-a-thon or you’d like to give to NCRF, please call 800-272-6272 to make your 100 percent tax-deductible donation.

Celebrating the legal profession on Law Day and year-round

gavel and scales

Photo by: DES Daughter

May 1 marks Law Day, a national day celebrating the role of law in our society and cultivating a deeper understanding of the legal profession, according to the American Bar Association (ABA). In 1957, ABA President Charles S. Rhyne imagined an annual celebration of the legal system, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower acknowledged the importance of the role of law in the creation of the United States when he signed a proclamation a year later. In 1961, Congress officially designated May 1 as Law Day. Each year, ABA chapters, attorneys, and judges across the nation host Law Day programs, which “are designed to help people better understand how law protects our liberty and how our legal system strives to achieve justice,” according to Law Day materials from the ABA.

The purpose of the annual Law Day is similar to the everyday mission of the National Equal Justice Library (NEJL) at Georgetown University’s Law Library. Almost 20 years ago, the NEJL was founded jointly by the ABA, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the Association of American Law Schools, and the American Association of Law Libraries. The NEJL was the first, and remains the only, archives dedicated to preserving the history of providing pro bono legal services to those unable to afford counsel. The need for such a collection was prompted after the family of Clara Shortridge Foltz — the first female lawyer in the western states and the person credited with instituting the public defender system in the U.S. — disposed of Foltz’s personal papers without realizing the historic importance of her personal effects.

Court reporters play a crucial role in the legal process both as the guardians of the record and, in their spare time, by preserving important collections from the NEJL as part of the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) Oral Histories Program. Most NCRA members are familiar with the Veterans History Project, the most prominent project in NCRF’s Oral Histories Program, but fewer are familiar with NCRF’s partnership with the NEJL.

“NCRF and NCRA’s fantastic professional staff and volunteer reporters have provided the NEJL with immeasurable support to preserve and make accessible the history of legal aid and indigent defense in the United States,” said Katharina Hering, NEJL’s project archivist. “NCRF and NCRA’s superb volunteer reporters have transcribed all 75 interviews from the first series of oral histories and are currently supporting the NEJL with transcribing our latest series of oral history interviews. All of the available transcripts are posted online through our Digital Georgetown repository, and the interviews are frequently featured on NEJL’s blog, Right On.”

Today, the NEJL archives contains 118 interviews with prominent attorneys, judges, and other members of the legal profession about their work in legal services, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, who worked as a lawyer for the Children’s Defense Fund, and Clinton Bamberger, the first director of the Office of Economic Opportunity Legal Services Program. The archives also include a series of interviews with Abe Krash, Bruce Jacob, and Anthony Lewis, key participants and observers of Gideon v. Wainwright, a landmark 1963 ruling that obligated states to provide legal counsel to criminal defendants unable to afford it. In 2013, the NEJL embarked on a new phase of the oral history project, focusing on second-generation leaders of the legal aid movement, such as Dennis Groenenboom, the executive director of Iowa Legal Aid.

“These attorneys have worked tirelessly to create programs such as self-help, low- and no-cost representation, as well as elder law,” said Heidi Darst, RMR, CRR, an official reporter from Rockwall, Texas, who has transcribed multiple interviews from the NEJL collections. “What has been most memorable for me in all of the interviews is the level of dedication these fine lawyers have to providing equal access to legal representation, even if it means taking a job that may not be a guaranteed paycheck starting out or located in good areas to raise their families. Transcribing the NEJL interviews is a great opportunity for busy reporters to give back to the legal community.”

The NEJL still has plenty of collections that need to be transcribed, according to Hering. Transcribing from these collections is a worthy celebration of the legal profession on Law Day and year-round.

“The NEJL is currently seeking transcribers for interviews from our new series of oral history interviews, including eight interviews documenting the history of Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, which were conducted in 2016,” said Hering.

The library also gratefully accepts donations of oral histories documenting the legal services work of attorneys, judges, and court reporters, as its small staff of a single interviewer and single archivist limits the number of interviews it can conduct. The NEJL’s Oral History Recording and Donation Guidelines can be found online.

Working reporters earn 0.25 PDC per completed transcript they submit as part of NCRF’s Oral Histories Program, up to 1.0 PDC per education cycle. If you would like more information about the NEJL, please contact April Weiner, NCRF’s Foundation Manager at aweiner@ncra.org, or Katharina Hering, NEJL’s project archivist at kh781@georgetown.edu.

NCRF currently accepting nominations for scholarship and grant

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) is now accepting nominations for the Robert H. Clark Scholarship and the New Professional Reporter Grant. The deadline for both the scholarship and the grant is April 21.

The $2,000 Robert H. Clark Scholarship is in its third year and is named for the late Robert H. (Bob) Clark, a court reporter from Los Angeles, Calif., who was dedicated to preserving the history of the profession. In 1993, he donated his extensive collection of books, artifacts, and documents related to court reporting to NCRF to help establish a namesake library housed at NCRA headquarters in Reston, Va. This scholarship was made possible thanks to a generous donation by Donna Hamer, Clark’s cousin, made in 2015.

“I have never met people who wish you success as if it was their own until I chose court reporting as my career path. I have always felt support and encouragement by people in the court reporting profession, and I feel honored and grateful to have been awarded the Robert H. Clark Scholarship,” said Natasha Jones after receiving the scholarship in 2016. “I am in the home stretch of court reporting school, and this scholarship will help me pay for my last quarters in school as well as certification testing. I cannot wait to become a court reporter!”

Court reporting students must be nominated by an instructor or advisor and meet a number of specific criteria to be eligible, including:

  • enrollment in an NCRA-approved court reporting program
  • passing at least one of the court reporting program’s Q&A tests at a minimum of 200 words per minute
  • having a GPA of 3.5 or above, demonstrating the need for financial assistance
  • possessing the qualities exemplified by a professional court reporter, including attitude, demeanor, dress, and motivation

The New Professional Reporter Grant of $2,000 benefits a qualified new working reporter who has graduated from an NCRA-approved program within the past year, among other criteria.

“Being a new reporter can be a little intimidating because every day is something new and unknown, which is also what makes it so exciting,” said Cathy Carpenter, the 2016 recipient of the New Professional Reporter Grant. “One of the best things about court reporting is that there are so many people willing to help, teach, and do whatever is necessary to help new reporters, such as myself, succeed. Receiving this [grant] is a prime example of the support that is out there in our community, and I am extremely grateful for it as I am starting out in my career.”

NCRF’s scholarships and grant are supported by donations to the NCRF Angels Drive and other fundraisers. Recipients will be recognized at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo., being held in Las Vegas, Nev., Aug. 10-13.

To learn more about the Robert H. Clark Scholarship or the New Professional Reporter Grant, and to find the nomination forms, please visit NCRA.org/NCRF/Scholarships.