Something important clicked for NCRA member Christine Phipps, RPR, owner of Phipps Reporting in West Palm Beach, Fla., while attending the Association’s April Board of Directors meeting when she heard that there were nearly 70 student court reporters waiting for available funds to become members of NCRA. She recalled the days as a young reporter when she couldn’t afford to join NCRA despite longing for the opportunity to meet working reporters and learn as much as she could from them.
“It upset me that there were people who wanted in and didn’t have the money to do so. I then started thinking about how hard it was when I was a young reporter. I remember barely even having enough money to pay for food or diapers, let alone gas money to get to my job,” she said.
“I can still picture that membership renewal in my stack of bills that ended up pushed to the bottom for years before I could one day pay it again. I remember how excited I was to become a court reporter, to work alongside lawyers and doctors and senators and published authors. I would have given anything to be able to afford that membership, and now that I am in a position in life to give back, I don’t ever want to see a future reporter or new reporter without a membership, without access to all of us as a resource.”
Immediately upon returning home from the meeting, Phipps put together a student sponsorship application, wrote a heartfelt note about what she heard and about how her firm would sponsor 10 student members, asked members if they were willing to pay it forward, and emailed it to NCRA’s managers’ email list. Within hours, the response was overwhelming, exceeding the number of pledges needed to purchase memberships for the waiting 69 students. To date, 22 firms have pledged to support student memberships with commitments of $325 each.
“Honestly, I never thought about whether I would get any responses at all. It really wasn’t a consideration. All I knew is that this information reached inside me and wrapped around my heart and in the pit of my stomach. I’m so passionate and love what I do 21 years later. I thought, am I alone? That question was my exact quote to firm owners across the country, am I alone?” said Phipps.
“I just thought if I feel this way, maybe someone else will. I wrote that email at 5:41 a.m. and in less than two hours, we had raised the funds for all the waiting students and now reaching beyond. As those emails came in, I can’t tell you how many times I cried that day, messages I received privately from people crying, members of our board even. It was a great, great day not just for court reporting but for humanity. I felt like all these people were true family.”
NCRA member Lorene R. Eppley, RPR, owner of Eppley Court Reporting, in Hopedale, Mass., said she completely understood the concept of giving back as it is one she was taught by her family as a young girl. “I’m doing the best to instill the same values in my children. You can give in so many ways: Let someone go ahead of you in line, surprise someone with coffee in the morning, or give students the gift of membership. I can give because I’m blessed. I want to share my happiness, and I think kindness can be contagious, as evidenced by the amazing generosity of our membership,” Eppley said.
Because court reporting is a life passion for Barbara Memory, RPR, she said she gave back when she received Phipps’ email. “I pay it forward to show my support for those following in my footsteps,” said the owner of Memory Reporting, in Brunswick, Ga. “One day they will be the leaders of our industry, and I have no doubt they too will pay it forward.”
Phipps said it was completely coincidental that the email was sent on April 14, the day before the second anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. She said she sees being a court reporter very much like being an athlete; there are some with natural talent, some that will have to work harder to get there, some who will compete in the Olympics, and some who will compete at the college level. The point is, she explained, that every single court reporter understands the hard work it requires and the dedication and commitment it takes to become a skilled court reporter and graduate of court reporting school. She added that she hopes the outpouring of support will assure court reporting students that the profession is behind them to succeed all the way.
“I want students to view court reporting school like they are running their own marathon to finish, and that there are 30,000 plus court reporters in the nation lining the streets wearing signs saying you can do it! We are there for them in school and after graduation; we want them to become the best court reporter they can be,” Phipps said.
“When I saw Christine’s heartfelt message, I just thought that it takes so little and helps so much to give back,” said Kenneth Zais, president of O’Brien & Levin Court Reporting in Boston, Mass. “It was fantastic to see the contributions snowball, but given the nature of NCRA’s membership, not at all surprising. We’ve all known lean times and can commiserate with those just getting started. Sponsoring students for membership lets them know that the entire national association is behind them. In paying it forward, firms will surely be rewarded when new court reporters take their first assignments.”
The $325 contributions cover the cost of 10 student memberships for the remainder of the year. The additional funds raised will be used for additional students who want to join as a rolling program. More information about how you can sponsor student members is available at NCRA.org/StudentSponsor.
Firms that have committed to support the pay it forward student membership effort with $325 pledges include:
Alliance Court Reporting, Rochester, NY
Appino & Biggs, Kansas City, KS
ARCC Services, Greenville, MS
Behmke Reporting, San Francisco, CA
CC Reporting, Eugene, OR
Combs Reporting, Inc., San Francisco, CA
Cook & Wiley, Inc., Richmond, VA
Eppley Court Reporting, Hopedale, MA
Grove & Associates, Wheaton, IL
Jack W. Hunt & Associates, Buffalo, NY
Kramm Court Reporting, San Diego, CA
LNS Court Reporting, Portland, OR
Marjorie Peters Court Reporting, Pittsburg, PA
Memory Reporting, Brunswick, GA
O’Brien & Levine, Boston, MA
Olympic Reporting & Video, Los Angeles, CA
Paradigm Reporting, Minneapolis, MN
Phipps Reporting, West Palm Beach, FL
Realtime Center for Learning, Garden City, NY
Sheril Feldman, New York, N.Y.
Urlaub Bowen, Chicago, IL
Volusia Reporting, Daytona Beach, FL
Weber Reporting LLC, Bethel Park, PA