Friday, July 31, 2015

Bonas and Beyond: Haitians coming to campus

St. Bonaventure University Logo
St. Bonaventure University Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I am super super excited to announce the Bonas and Beyond program!

This fall approximately 20 Haitian students will be coming to St. Bonaventure to participate in over 2 weeks of classes and cultural exchange.  It will be a great way for the Haitians to learn about America and for members of the Bonaventure community (including local residents) to learn about Haiti.

It is going to be GREAT

Bonas and Beyond Pamphlet

How will it work?
Haitian students will take part in a series of classes and seminars on campus and will make trips to experience local businesses, farms, and regional tourist attractions.  In addition to the organized educational activities, the Haitian students will be immersed in the US culture daily. They will also have the opportunity to share lessons with their hosts on Haitian Creole, history, culture, and the Haitian economy.

After the conference,  We will also be launching an online- not for credit learning program to help educate people while also making friends and associates from around the globe.

Classes will be taught on a volunteer basis by professors, students, and experts from the Bonaventure community.  The classes will be in English and available online for free

What will they do?
Although visiting the US is a dream for many Haitian students, we recognize that it is a massive investment for them. It is our goal, therefore, to keep the students very active during their stay so that they can get the most out of this cultural exchange. Planned activities include:

(1 hour each)
(1-2 hours each)
(tentative; not yet approved)

  1. Accounting
  2. Economics*
  3. Finance*
  4. Marketing
  5. Environmental Science
  6. Computers and leadership

*These will meet Monday, Wednesday, Friday

Note: Economics and Finance may be combined

  1. Sanitation
  2. Water  
  3. Irrigation Kits and Gardening
  4. Solar Energy
  5. Teaching (Standards)
  6. Teaching (Practical Tips)
  7. Project Management
  8. St. Francis Week: We Are All One
  9. NGO Management
  10. Job Readiness and US College Preparation
  11. Political Science
  12. Physical Education
  13. Yoga

  1. Niagara Falls
  2. State Park
    (Allegany, most likely)
  3. Olean Wholesale Group
  4. Olean General Hospital
  5. Canticle Farms
  6. Large Dairy Farm
  7. Local Business -TBD
  8. Police/Municipal Building
  9. Restaurant - TBD
  10. Mount Irenaeus

How can you get involved?

  • Host a meal (or eat out with them at a local restaurant)
  • Sponsor a student (food alone will cost over $200 during their stay)
  • Allow them to present to your class or group on Haiti
  • Attend presentations on campus
  • Attend a meal on campus with the students (BBQ or wrap up meal)
  • Be a community host (assisting with logistics and tours)
  • Provide transportation to off-site activities
  • Donate school supplies for the students to take home
  • Donate soccer equipment to be shipped to Haiti

Other details:

  • The Haitian students will be responsible for their own transportation to and from the Buffalo International Airport.   From there we will pick them up, drive them to campus, and host them in an on-campus dorm.  We will also provide their daily meals, through the dining hall and off-site accommodations (including local church groups, picnics, a BBQ, etc).
  • Approximately 25% of the students will speak English fluently.  If you know of a Haitian Creole speaker who would be willing to volunteer to be a translator, please let us know.
  • Transportation will be a challenge.  Please let us know if you would be willing to drive.
  • The students will be attending men’s and women’s soccer games, watching a MNF game, etc. Participating in tailgate events would be a great cultural experience for them.
  • Bonagany and Francis Week will both take place during their stay.
  • Depending on the budget, students would ideally be provided with  “goodie” bag, as well.

A pamphlet is available here:

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Essence Festival Day of Service Offers Snapshot of New Orleans Recovery | TIME

As we approach the 10 year anniversary of Katrina BonaResponds will be looking periodically back at Katrina and our founding.  This will likely continue through the 10th anniversary of our "Big Trip" in March.  We kick it off with this current look at New Orleans.

Essence Festival Day of Service Offers Snapshot of New Orleans Recovery | TIME:

"The day of service at KIPP Renaissance High school was like a snapshot of the work that has taken place across New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In the 10 years since the levees broke and flooded 80% of the city, 94% of metro New Orleans’ 2000 population has returned. The economy is on the rebound with big businesses and startups popping up all across the area, though poverty remains pervasive in pockets of the city. The city’s all-charter school system has been held up by local officials as a potential model for the rest of the country, though reports from Mother Jones and Think Progress have found there is cause for concern in some areas, namely standardized test scores. Ask anyone—from the Mayor to Thursday’s volunteers—and they’ll acknowledge how far the city has left to go, but they can’t help but note how far it has come."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

BonaResponds Podcast now on iTunes

The BonaResponds Podcast is now online!  It has the video interviews (some of them) as well as new audio-only interviews.

Our podcast is now on ITunes :) will upload others soon.
Posted by BonaResponds on Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Another update...all good!

I know I just did an update a few days ago on FB, but so much has changed since Monday I will do another and share it here too:

Been a very good day/week on several fronts! Too soon for a full update, but a quick update:1. Heard from Rochelin...
Posted by BonaResponds on Thursday, June 25, 2015

here was Monday's:

Update on a few things:1. Last week we sent money to Monrovia, Liberia for a used solar electric system for the CYC...
Posted by BonaResponds on Monday, June 22, 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Interview with Jerry Godbout

Jerry has been with us from the (almost) start--he came on the "big trip" and has been active since.  We finally got together for an interview earlier this week:



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Two interviews about our trip to Oklahoma

Two interviews about our trip to Oklahoma.  One is a video interview with the family we built a ramp for:

The other is a podcast interview with Greg and Jim speaking about the trip.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

5 years ago...a look back to a NON BonaResponds trip and why it is still relevant

Physical Location map Haiti with departements,...
Physical Location map Haiti with departements, Equirectangular projection, N/S stretching 105 %. Geographic limits of the map: N: 20.2° N S: 17.9° N W: 74.6° E O: 71.5° E (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is from Jim's Facebook page, but many of you are not friends, so we will share here too:

5 years ago I made my first trip to Haiti and arrived on Flag Day. This year Wesley a good friend of mine from Leogane shared pictures of the day there.

5 years ago, parades, earthquake damaged roads, and traffic made it a 7 hour trip from Port au Prince to Leogane (usually about 90 min). The 7-hour drive (and I use that term loosely) showed me enough of Haiti that by the time we arrived at camp (after lights out) I knew for certain that the Haitian journey for both BonaResponds and me had just begun.

So much has changed since that trip both good and bad. People have come and gone, my mom (my largest supporter) died, @BonaResponds has grown in many ways while struggling to replace its great leaders who were lost to graduation, and so much more. But many of the friendships forged on that first trip are still rock solid.

English: Overflight of Leogane, Haiti followin...
English: Overflight of Leogane, Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We worked with All Hands Volunteers in Leogane. In my goodbye talk on that first trip I remember saying that the work in Haiti was far from over and that the long run work needed would last decades. From infrastructure and basic needs to schools and education, there remains much to do. Fortunately many Haitians are taking the lead this time and doing incredible work. I have been exceedingly fortunate to be able to meet (and work alongside) many of these modern day nation builders. I encourage you all to get involved and help raise the standard of living for all.

There are so many things that we could be doing to support the work of our Haitian friends if we had more involvement: a car wash fundraiser to fund more partial scholarships through HaitiScholarships, solar for schools and businesses through PositiveRipples, funding more gardens through Bona Responds, or making donations to any of the many groups we have worked with.

English: Satellite image showing deforestation...
English: Satellite image showing deforestation in Haiti. This image depicts the border between Haiti (left) and the Dominican Republic (right). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Their success is amazing. From garden projects, to wells, composting toilets Haitians are doing the necessary work. Groups we have worked with (and helped fund) planted well over 2000 trees in the last month alone to reduce deforestation. We have now shipped nearly 130 pallets of school supplies (and medical supplies) to groups and schools on the ground in Haiti (with the next shipment going out Saturday), and via our spinoff HaitiScholarships) have given partial scholarships for scores of students to attend school.

But (and there is always a but), the work is daunting. So many people do not have access to clean water, electricity, or a good education. We can make a dent in this.

A trick in behavioral finance/economics (a class I teach) is to publically make the statement which then becomes a binding constraint. It is paradoxical from a rational perspective as you are giving up flexibility, but it works (see, but it works. So let me publically state that my goal is to have at least 4 more scholarship winners in Les Cayes, 6 more in Leogane, as well as two solar electric systems installed by the time schools start in Fall. (and for the first time, some of these new scholarships will be set aside for female students to increase their opportunities).

To conclude, I want to wish all of Haiti a belated happy flag day and ask everyone to get involved and to help make the world (and in particular Haiti) a better place!

(long list of names of people and organizations deleted)

Finally, please let me address the ubiquitous "But there are poor people here" comment that is bound to come. "YES YES YES" there are many poor people everywhere and I encourage you to work at home as well. BonaResponds does local work almost every week of the year. Unfortunately, I have been on way too many BonaResponds local work days with no volunteers to believe that this type of comment is anything more than chafe to distract from the real issue: there are too many poor people in the world. Too many who are not given the same opportunities as others. We are all one human race. We live in on the same planet. We did not choose where (or when) to be born. As those of us who won the "birth lottery" we owe it to everyone to help raise their standard of living whether they live in the USA, Haiti, or anywhere else.
Don't forget Haiti! THANK YOU everyone on this list and the many others. Just thinking back to each of you has given me more hope and encouragement! We can do this. We can (and will) make things better! I hope many of you agree! We'd loev to have you involved!!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Volunteer with BonaResponds this weekend

With the school year winding down, we have many jobs waiting. The next few weekends will be very busy and we really need more volunteers than we have been getting. If you have been thinking of helping out, it would be a great time to do so! This weekend we will be cleaning up along the Allegheny River Trail, cleaning up a home/yard for a physically challenged individual, packing school supplies and soccer equipment for Haiti and Liberia, prepping a ramp (if we get enough volunteers we will begin putting up a wheelchair ramp), adding handrails to an existing ramp and maybe doing some trail work.  

To give us an idea of how many people will be helping, we are asking you to sign up here (next two weeks are listed)

Times: 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Collections for Haiti, Liberia, and the US

Our next shipment is being readied!

Items will mainly be going to Haiti for schools. soccer, and garden programs.  However, we will also be shipping some items to the CYC-Liberia group and their orphanage there.  We will also be giving books (pre K- 12th grade) to local school children in NY and PA.

We will be packing supplies for Haiti and Liberia this Saturday. 

Please drop off new or lightly used soccer equipment (balls, shoes, whistles, etc), school supplies (paper, pens, pencils, calculators, backpacks), small gardening tools/work gloves, toys, or children's books to 104B in Swan or bring them to the lower parking lot (by the BonaResponds Trailer this Saturday between 10:35 and 11:15. (earlier is better as we will be able to sort and assign the donations to various groups.
Also we'd still love someone to sponsor shipping of a barrel (we fill each barrel with about $1000 of value--it costs us about $120 to ship) or to sponsor the water for the soccer practices ($30 a month) or to pay for a student scholarship (remember the last count was 23/60 in school, we want it up to 100%) at $20 a month (via HaitiScholarships)

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Soccer programs in Haiti

We are working with several soccer programs in Haiti...we will also be sending some soccer balls to Liberia and are looking for programs in need in the US.

Here is a video we had made in Les Cayes:

How can you help?

First learn about our programs, then collect soccer equipment (new or used) or make a donation :)

Rochelin is a good friend from Les Cayes Haiti.  He send pictures almost every Saturday Morning of the soccer practice there.  Thank you Rochelin not only for coaching and helping so much with the soccer program, but also for your work with trees and agriculture in Haiti. As I have told you, you are truly a #rolemodelhero

Here are some pictures:


But this post is not about Rochelin per se, it is about the children in the soccer program.

First the good news! It is awesome that they now have a soccer program--both male and female teams. This gives the children (now over 70 strong) something to hope for, something to do to stay off the streets, and some order in what can be a chaotic world. It teaches teamwork, exercise, and discipline. It is a start. It is a great start!

But too many of the players can not afford shoes. The program (Soccer for Peace) can can barely afford water for the players. Indeed they have had to shut down before for lack of funds for several years.

Only about 1/3 of the children in this program are currently in school. Working with HaitiScholarships we are trying to raise that number.

You can help. Donate money for their water. Donate used (or new!) soccer equipment (even sneakers and running shoes!) for their teams. Donate to HaitiScholarships for their schooling. Or just share this message. Maybe it will reach a soccer club, or a person who wants to sponsor a child, or pay for water for their practices.

We can do this. It is a small step to make Haiti (and the world a better place) but the longest journey begins with a step.

Donations can be made:

* Soccer (or school) equipment: 104B Swan Business Center St. Bonaventure NY 14778
* Monetary donations can be made via
* Money for scholarships can be made via

Equipment will also be going to programs in Leogane, Gonaives, and elsewhere in Haiti. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Bishop of Jacmel Haiti on the importance of educatuon and how you can help

Today we are sharing with you the words of the Catholic Bishop Launay Saturne of Jacmel:

"Without education we will remain in the current situation until the end of time.
Haiti's schools are a far cry from those of neighboring Dominican Republic, let alone those of more developed countries: Textbooks and basic supplies are hard to come by; few teachers have more than a ninth-grade education; buildings are in need of repair; equipment is virtually nil." (from

Through donated school supplies (and in few cases more direct support) BonaResponds helps support education throughout Haiti. And of course we work hand in hand with @HaitiScholarships on a daily basis (if you want to see your money make an impact, make a donation to Haitischolarships and just watch! WOW! )

But as Bishop Launay suggests, the need is still very great and we are all called to increase our efforts to make a greater impact.

The good news is that we can do this. It is a winnable battle, but only with your help.

There is no single magic bullet. There is no single Lone Ranger that can change things. But together, with many strands, we can.

* Late last night we sent about $230 to our volunteers in Leogane to help a school with a fence and their garden program to help both teach (and feed) their students.
* This Sunday night we will have a Haitischolarships board meeting to discuss ways to increase fundraising.
* Next weekend we will be packing barrels of books and school supplies.

How can you help?
* Make a donation (either money or school supplies)
* Collect lightly used notebook paper at your office
* Donate used notebook computers
* Sponsor a student through HaitiScholarships (for $1 a day..think about it).
* Pay for a solar electric system for a school (rough cost is $1500 each)
* Become a marketing intern! Both HaitiScholarships and Bona Responds would beyond love someone to help with our website and communications with donors (and would be donors).

Our future efforts:
Donating books, planting gardens, and even installing solar are all good steps, but we can do so much more. For instance, we would love to sponsor a training conference in Leogane where Haitian Teachers could get together and share what is working well and what is not. We'd love to have some teachers from the US or elsewhere work with them to develop stronger curriculums, we'd love to increase the online "penpal" program, we'd love to.....but we need you to help make it a reality.
PS of course we are also still collecting soccer equipment as we believe physical education is also an important means of improving the welfare of those in Haiti.  Supplies can be dropped off to 104B in Swan Business Center.  Or mailed if you prefer to BonaResponds Box BY 104B  Swan Business Center, St, Bonaventure NY 14778

Here is our Amazon WIshlist for items we will send to Haiti. 

Much of this was posted on FB as well.  

Friday, March 06, 2015

An update on our Efforts in Liberia

We were asked by the University to document what we were doing so we figured we would share it with the BonaResponds Community as well.  If the embedded presentation does not work, here is the link:

Short version:

We are helping CYC-Liberia with their new, much larger, orphanage. and we need your help to make it a success.

Here is an audio file that accompanies the presentation.  (Jim is not smart enough to link the two together, so we will go low tech).

Thursday, March 05, 2015

What are you doing for spring break?


Going home for break? 

Clean out your closets and empty your bookcases! BonaResponds is collecting soccer equipment (especially cleats and soccer balls), school supplies (lightly used pens, pencils, notebooks), and books (pre K+).   (notice how many are playing barefoot!)

Supplies and soccer equipment will mainly go to Haiti, but some will go to Liberia and Costa Rica (and some may stay in the U.S.). Books will largely be given out in the U.S. to school children and schools (mainly in Western New York).

Donations can be dropped off in Swan 104B (leave by door if no one is there) or we will have a collection day March 29.

Staying for break? 

BonaResponds will be working locally on a variety of jobs throughout the week. Watch our website or social media for times and places.  First event is 10:40 on Saturday! 

(From the NoticeBoard)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Update on things

English: Satellite image showing deforestation...
English: Satellite image showing deforestation in Haiti. This image depicts the border between Haiti (left) and the Dominican Republic (right). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
from our FaceBook group:

Update on things:
* Several jobs lined up for today (Saturday 10:35). Mostly inside (-14F the last I looked), but some outside work if it warms up to positive teens smile emoticon Big job is a new floor for a bathroom in Allegany county. (Sunday 11:20-- it will be tarping a roof I THINK). Relax, the roof is low.
* Thanks to the "Hurt Jim's Wallet" campaign, it was a good fundraising week that will allow us to make more WarmSnugglyBlankets(Thanks to Jim C!!) and also support the gardening and tree planting in Haiti. So THANK YOU ALL!!
* The order for new patches for blankets still has not come. I am getting worried. Tried checking on it by phone and email and no answer.
* April 11-12 International Service Weekend still taking shape. We spoke or texted with several people from Haiti, one in Bangladesh, and one from Charlotte yesterday about being involved. Would love others involved! Alumni groups? Churches? Other Schools? Past leaders? Remember: big or small. You can organize a small day for a group of friends, your work team, or just yourself. Clean up a park, teach English, visit a nursing home, paint a school room, or any of a million other things. Key idea is to make the world a little better, one person at a time. AND be a role model by sharing what you do so that others can follow your lead. (more info at
* Good news from Bishop Nelson in Liberia. The rent is paid! So they can now start worrying about making the orphans more at home in their new surroundings. Nelson and his crew are truly doing great work. Hats off to them!
* WRT garden or tree programs in Haiti, we heard from Onel (@TreesforLifeinHaiti), Djemson (OHAPCH), Wesley (CJM), and Rochelin (@Harvesting4Haiti) this past week. All are proceeding very well. Will be speaking with Sandra (TreeangesforHaiti) on Sunday evening to see how we can all work together more efficiently. TreeAngelsforHaiti have a big project planned in May, but alas it is during our finals as I would like to be there to help.
* We had a very good meeting with a group of new leaders on Friday afternoon. Have student leaders for soccer collections, a new local leader (each local leader will be responsible for one day per month--being the site leader, helping to get volunteers etc), and a couple of new HaitiScholarships' marketing and website plans. All in all a very productive late Friday afternoon!
* We did check into helping in Bradford PA this past week when a state of emergency was declared for a broken water line, but we were not needed.

Thanks everyone!! Get involved! Volunteer and Change the World!