Friday, October 24, 2014

Who or what is BonaResponds

WIth all of the new hits the past few days, we better let you know who we are:


Who we are:  BonaResponds ( is a volunteer organization whose mission is simply “to help”. BonaResponds is affiliated with St. Bonaventure University (SBU) it is located 75 miles south of Buffalo NY.   BonaResponds is open for all and always welcome new volunteers!  The more volunteers we have, the more good we can do!

What we do:  BonaResponds helps to make things better.  We provide semi-skilled and unskilled labor on a wide range of projects from wheelchair ramps to disaster response.  We generally can not provide materials.  Thus, if possible the homeowner is responsible for the cost of lumber, paint, roofing supplies, etc.  In the event the homeowner cannot pay, we may be able to help secure materials.  In other cases we can buy the materials and you can pay us back.

What to expect:  We will try very hard to make things better.  We are not professionals.  The majority of us  are students or work full time.  All of us give up our own free time to help others.  We try very hard to help everyone but are not perfect and can not do everything.  Please be patient with us.

  • BonaResponds aims to help make things better. We may not make it perfect but we can make it better! Whether the help is "just" being there immediately after a disaster to listen to survivors or if it means to haul trees, gut houses, or pick up debris. Our goal is to make the world, and your life, a little better.  

How can you help?

* We love to work with those we are helping.  It means much more to the volunteers if we are working along side those we are helping.  Even if you can not do any of the work, just to be there and speaking with the volunteers means a great deal.
BonaResponds History
* BR  was established after Hurricane Katrina and has made over 50 trips after many types of disasters and have had over a thousand local work days
* In addition to disaster relief, work has included over 100 wheelchair ramps, new floors, making homes safer, winterizing homes, construction work on two homes, roofs, work at schools, churches, park clean ups, river clean ups, work with “at risk” students, collection of books, coats, gloves, sporting equipment for the less privileged, painting,
* We are open to all
* We work approximately 50 weekends a year, so come on out and lend a hand! We are ALWAYS looking for volunteers!

Here is a  partial list of items (call them mantras, sayings, thoughts, or views) that help guide BonaResponds

  1. Everyone has something to offer.
  2. It is better to go and not be needed than to not go and be needed.
  3. Better not perfect.
  4. Walking in others' shoes not enough, we need to see things through their eyes.
  5. We can't do everything, but we can do something.  
  6. A small job to society is often an enormous help to those helped.
  7. Much can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.
  8. Many hands make light(er) work.
  9. All voluntary activities must be "win-win".
  10. Make a positive difference
  11. Everyone is a role model.
  12. No one is perfect.


Media coverage of our #EndEbola Campaign

A fast look at some of the media coverage of our #EndEbola campaign

From the BV by Julia:

"BonaResponds began a campaign this week to raise awareness for the fight against Ebola. The group will also raise money for the organizations fighting the disease and dealing with its consequences.The campaign encourages volunteers to help rake leaves in the surrounding community. Community members who choose to have their lawns raked are asked to donate to an organization fighting Ebola....
“Suffering anywhere is suffering everywhere. I see no distinction in helping the person down the block and the person around the world except for the costs involved,” Jim Mahar, advisor of BonaResponds, said.

From the Olean Times Herald:

"....spread this campaign by telling friends and using the hashtag #endebola on their social media profiles. BonaResponds hopes this campaign will grow into something bigger by making it a challenge, reminiscent of the recently popular “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.”Volunteers can challenge others to raise $100 for the cause or donate $10 themselves.
... because the disease is affecting such a poor part of the world, it is especially difficult to treat."

From Time Warner Cable News Buffalo

"...if you go to they can sign up if they want their lawn mowed, or raked or anything that they want done, they can describe the job and then they can decide if they are going to make a donation to whichever group their doing it to, "

David N. Campbell |

Sharkheads shop: Katrina example for over 2 years
Sharkheads shop: Katrina example for over 2 years (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
David N. Campbell |

A huge congratulation goes out to David Campbell the founder of AllHands.   Without him and his work at the original Hands on USA BonaResponds would likely have never taken off.

We have worked with them many times, and David has spoken to both my class as BonaResponds leaders.  He also made a key donation to us to allow us to buy chain saws after the Buffalo Snow Storm in October 2006.  Here is some of our past blog entries that involved him:

Congratulations David!!

"When Campbell wrapped up his work in Thailand in 2005, he returned home to Massachusetts only to have Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the United States eight months later. Using the model he developed in Bang Tao, Campbell was on the ground within a week in Biloxi, MS, eventually rallying over 1,500 people to help.

These transformative experiences, overseas and closer to home, became the foundation for All Hands Volunteers, the nonprofit Campbell launched in 2005 with a simple mission: to provide immediate and sustainable volunteer support — with minimal bureaucratic obstacles — to communities struck by disaster all over the world."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Some pictures from Liberia

The CYC crew in Liberia did an assessment yesterday of the area around Dolo Town.

Their take-aways:

  1. Even after the crisis ends, many new orphans will need help for years.  
  2. People in most areas are getting the message of how Ebola is spread.
  3. By their estimates for the area they surveyed (an area heavily affected) 42% of homes lost someone (or a relative--so this could be a high estimate).
  4. 1/7 of the children they dealt with are now orphaned (realize Liberia has recently had a major civil war and is a very poor area to begin with, many of the children did not have both parents to start--we do not want to overplay the deaths from Ebola).
  5. They need money for more protective suits, chlorine bleach, and food.  They said a few times that food is becoming an issue as transport has slowed. 

 Here are a few of the pictures they sent:

Pictures courtesy of Bishop Nelson Sampson Boegbah 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Help #EndEbola!

Help reduce suffering in West Africa. help #EndEbola!

BonaResponds is joining forces with CYC (Christian Youth Corps) and the entire world (this can be done anywhere and by anyone!). 

The basic plan: Volunteers will do lawn work or other small chores in return for a donation that goes to those helping those on the front lines in the battle against Ebola. 

From this basic idea, the donation can work in two different ways.
1. You give us the money and we decide the actual split of the money (it will all go to the groups below)
2. You tell us how much and to whom you are donating and then make the donation on your own (you can also use the hashtag #EndEbola to share your donation and volunteer event to help!)

Groups we recommend:
1. Doctors Without Borders
2. Partners in Health
3. Catholic Relief Services:
4. UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief)

5. a group run by a Siena Graduate
6. CitiHope: a group we have worked with in the past and hope to again!
7. CYC of Liberia (which runs service programs and children camps and are getting many additional orphans)

We need three things:
1. Work to do (we will be raking leaves and other jobs) in the Western NY and NW Pennsylvania area this weekend). You can sign up to get your lawn work done
2. We will need volunteers (and rakes!) this weekend. 10:30 on Saturday to start from lower parking lot to the West of the baseball field. (here is a waiver form that will need to be signed:
3. We need people to help spread the word! Please use hashtags #EndEbola#BonaResponds in tweets/ Instagram or Facebook posts.

Don't have any small chores? You can still get involved. Challenge co-workers and friends to raise $100 for one of the groups or else they (and you!) each donate $10.

We'd love to have your help!

And a special note to people and groups other areas: This is totally "open source" so please please imitate US and improve/multiply our efforts! The key is getting help to the groups that need it!

PLEASE SHARE!!! This really needs to go viral! (The campaign and not the Ebola virus!  )

Monday, October 20, 2014

Notice Board Announcement

BonaResponds'  "Let's Go Viral to Fight Ebola" meeting

Super excited to announce a plan to help the many thousands of people affected by Ebola.  We will be launching a program where people across the country can help raise money for groups working on the front lines in the war on Ebola.

We are teaming up with local schools and CYC (the Christian Youth Corps) from Machias and Bradford to rake leaves for people.  In return, we will request a donation made to one of the organizations working in West Africa.

* Doctors Without Borders* Doctors Without Borders
* Partners in Health 
* Catholic Relief Services
* Kids for Christ / Christian Youth Corp - Monrovia Liberia (an orphanage/children's camp)

We think this could (and should) go viral.  Challenge your friends to raise $100 or else donate $5 themselves!

But we need help.

1. Leaders to help make a new website ASAP. (needs to be up and running by late Wednesday)
2. People to spread the idea to their local schools, churches, friends, etc.  (think Ice Bucket Challenge for cool autumn weather!)
3. People to volunteer to help rake leaves and more
4. People to be leaders!
5. Did I mention people to spread the word?   :)

Why? Simply because it is the right thing to do.  The heroes fighting this battle need our support.  The suffering must end.  The children who have lost their parents and all the people who are losing loved ones, need our support.  We can't go there.  But we can help.  And launching a viral attack on a killer virus just seems right!

There will be two immediate meetings:

9 pm (yes it is late and yes there is MNF, but come anyways) on Monday in the Swan Atrium.
and 5:15 PM on Tuesday again in the Swan Atrium (the 5:15 Tuesday is subject to change: follow BonaResponds on Twitter for updates.

See BonaResponds.orgSee for more info

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

An interview with Larry Orsini

YES!  Larry nails it.  Great stuff.  From his time right after Katrina to how BonaResponds is truly life changing.

The audio has some hiccups, but the content is so good. Larry has been with BonaResponds from the very start and totally "gets" it. THANK YOU LARRY!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The BonaResponds Story: an interview with important people in BonaResponds History

BonaResponds started after hurricane Katrina.  In the time since then we have worked with many people who have had valuable experiences and stories.

Anthony DiMario begins the series of interviews with what the early years of BonaResponds were like.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Mid semester report card

Departments of Haiti
Departments of Haiti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mid-term break thoughts:

1. First the numbers:  Five ramps, several clean up jobs, a painting job, handrails, two new steps, cleaned pumpkins, painted our trailer, and a large shipment to Haiti.

2. A great group of first-year volunteers have stepped in to help.  Turnout was great at the start of the year but has dropped off in recent weekends.

3. We are still looking for more student leaders who could head up a weekend work day, as well as help with some work during the week.  (ESPECIALLY if you have a vehicle!)  This is a pretty big need.  We are missing Greg and Reed from last year.

4. Our efforts in Haiti have been good.  New contacts throughout the country have made our work in Haiti more enjoyable and I believe more effective.  From schools, solar, garden programs, orphanages, and even soccer programs, I believe there are many ways where we can make measurable improvements in the lives of people and the environment in Haiti.

5. WarmSnugglyBlanket is a definite area of emphasis for the rest of the school year.  It has been a weak point since school has started.  We have not been giving out nearly as many blankets, we have fewer blankets in inventory than at any point since 2013, and have done no fundraising.  That said, we have received some wonderful thank-you's from blanket recipients and have some new potential leaders and helpers to make this better.  Look for a large blanket making day later this school year.  (Note we did have a tentative blanket making day planned where we were going to make 100 pink blankets (estimated cost of $800, but the would-be sponsor was unable to do it, so we postponed it.  If you or your business/church group would like to sponsor such a day, please let us know!)

6. Another failure was the lack of an actual fall break trip.  I had hoped to go to Detroit, but only 3 others signed up, and with a heavy local workload (to say nothing of school work), our fall break trip will be to Western New York this year with work locally Sat, Sun, and Monday.  A good reminder that we are a group whose mission is to help, not to travel.

7. A big "THANK YOU" to those who have donated!  You are the best and are allowing us to do what we do.  Without you, BonaResponds is just a good idea.  Remember that.  Be proud of yourself for giving!   That said, if we are to be fully transparent and honest, I have done an awful job in this area.  (I do have many excuses if you want to hear them:  a marketing class was going to do it, I reached out to potential leaders from the community and never heard back, etc., etc.).  But in the end it is just another in the continuing ways "Jim let us down".  Thanks to those of you who give in spite of my poor fundraising skills we have not yet been unable to help, but it is a trend we need to fix.  Not only for local projects (ball bark number is each ramp costs $1,000) but for Haiti and food packing.  Several requests for people to help in this area have failed and, as a result, a spring food packing event looks VERY unlikely.  If you would like to help in this, please contact me (Jim). We need to raise about $25,000 to do it.  To date we have a pledge of $4000 if we go ahead with the day.

8. PositiveRipples is progressing but at glacial speed.  We have filed for incorporation are are waiting for state approval.  We can not really do much until we get that.  Waiting teaches patience?

9. Much like the videos we shared on who we are helping in Haiti, we will be making a series of short videos on the history of BonaResponds and interviews with some of our leaders (past and present).  These will appear sort of as a vlog to start.  Look for them soon.  I am interviewing Larry and Bonnie Orsini this week!

10. To sum up: we have had a very good, but not perfect semester so far.  We need more help in many areas, but we are progressing on many fronts.  We would love to have you get involved!  Remember we are open to all and you do not need to make a long term commitment.  We meet almost every Saturday at 10:30 and Sunday at 11:15 (although watch for a possible Time change after the clocks change).  

You can always donate to us at

and if you want to get involved: PM us, come volunteer and we can talk, or email Jim at  We'd love your help and there are people who need your help.  Volunteer and Change the world!!

Friday, October 03, 2014

Update from today's notice board

Today's notice Board announcement:

BonaResponds Announcements

1. Today is the last day to sign up for the POSSIBLE fall break trip to Detroit. IF we do not get enough interest, we will be working here and on projects for Haiti. Sign up at:

2. We will be working Saturday and Sunday this weekend (like normal  ). Saturday will be local and a shorter day. Sunday will be in Machias and we really need volunteers for Sunday! (Sat 10:30, Sunday 11:15 from the trailer behind Maintenance)

3. We are still looking for more leaders. You must be willing to be a team leader at least once a month and work a couple of hours during the week.

4. Do you have any books laying around that you want to get rid of? We are collecting them for a few reading programs in the US and for some libraries in Haiti. (We'd especially like children's books, dictionaries, How-to/DIY books, and any books in French.) You can bring them with you if you are coming to volunteer, or drop them off outside Jim's office in 104B Swan.

The following was not part of the notice board but should have been:

5. We are also again looking for children's shoes. An orphanage in Haiti has requested them as well as a program in Costa Rica.
6. One of the jobs this SATURDAY will be to be cleaning 200 pumpkins forThe Pink Pumpkin Project. Many hands make light work! Come help this great cause to help local women fighting cancer.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fall Break trip --Detroit. MAYBE

We are getting close to committing to a trip to Detroit to help All-Hands with flood recovery.  HOWEVER, we need to see how much interest there is in going (alternative is to stay here and work on ramps etc locally).  So, if you are interested in going to Detroit, please fill out the following:

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Much progress!

Mike collected over 20 soccer balls and many shirts and socks for Haiti!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Haiti shipments moved up. You can help!

Scheduling issues with the trucking company have led us to move up the shipment of items to Haiti. Items will have to be packaged this weekend.

My plans not working is par for the course, so I guess none of you should be surprised that the plan to ship items to Haiti in October changed.  LOL...

Why?  The trucking company that takes our supplies to Brooklyn before they can go to Haiti is booked throughout October. So they will be picking up items September 25.  The good news is that it means the items will (in theory) get to Haiti sooner!

This means we have to hurry! If you have any school supplies, soccer balls, small toys, shoes, or just want to donate to help pay for the cost of shipping, now is the time!  Ideally you bring them to SBU (the semi trailer by the baseball field at 10:30 on Saturday.)  If you can not, you can donate online at or send items via Amazon--see below).

We are working with numerous groups across Haiti.  From schools, orphanages, to soccer clubs working with the youth of Haiti).  (note this is different than PositiveRipples which will be be working more with Haitian Businesses)

We are helping at several schools (books were given to over 20 schools on our last shipment) as well as orphanages throughout Haiti (From Gonaives, Port au Prince, and two new ones (for us) in the Lascahaboas and Mayer region.  We have also given 3 small solar units out to schools (2 in Leogane, one in Gonaives---but they need larger ones).

Want to know more?  Here are some of the interviews we have done with the people we are helping:

Jeudy Djemson:

Manno Sanon video explaining his soccer program:

Robinson DixyBand Pollyanna Michelot on his school:

 Occeant Jean on his orphanage:  (here is a link to his orphanage page:

Don't know how to help?  Here is an amazon wish list than can give you some ideas and will ship directly to us!    We will be packing and labeling this weekend, so to make it for Christmas now is the time!

If you have any questions, just ask!  Thanks for your help!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

First ever meeting!

Very excited to be taking part in the newly formed (actually still forming PositiveRipples!)

This is our NoticeBoard submission from today:

“PositiveRipples Ground floor meeting

PositiveRipples is a new group aimed at improving Economic and educational opportunities locally and around the world via both traditional charity and business development.  This is a PRELIMINARY (think pre start-up) meeting that will lay out our initial plans and the steps needed to achieve theses goals.  The basic idea is that by there are times that giving a "hand-up" can be better for the recipient than a "hand-out".  It can also be more sustainable and a better learning experience for both sides.  

PositiveRipples will combine elements of Embrace it Africa, BonaResponds, Enactus, SIMM, as well as online and in-person learning that will be made available for in class or out of class use.  The plan will be start this exciting program in stages in Uganda, Haiti, and the US.  

Want a few examples to get the creative juices flowing?  A student helping a Haitian Internet cafe create financial statements for the first time, or developing lesson plans and working with teachers in Uganda (or Haiti), or small micro investments in businesses.  (BTW: all three of these have already happened but not as part of a formalized program)    

This evening's meeting to introduce this exciting new program and to gauge interest and get leaders is at 5:30 in the Swan Atrium.  (depending on numbers interested we may go into Swan 100 or another room so look for us if you do not see us immediately).  The meeting should be quite short (ideally less than 30 minutes so that those with 6:00 classes can attend).  

As a personal note, I am totally sold on this and can easily imagine a program where we will be helping start positive ripples (where one good event leads to every more as the benefits expand) literally around the globe.  Come and see if you want to get involved. "

and here is where the meeting can be watched online:

Want even more?  Here is the basic framework of what participants on our side will be learning.  The basic idea is that we need to truly understand the situation before loans and investments are made so that it can be a "win, win" situation for all involved.

 The PostiveRipples Path on Helpified

Monday, September 08, 2014

BonaResponds 9 minute update

Hey everyone, I don't have time for a real newsletter but want to give you a very fast update (have to leave in 9 minutes!)

  • Great weekend of work this past weekend--scraped a house to paint soon, built a ramp, scouted several jobs, and volunteers delivered a new battery for a woman's wheelchair/scooter.  THANKS to everyone!
  • Great new group of volunteers and leaders this year!  From freshmen to seniors a great group has been coming out to help!  Excited to be working with them and have very high hopes for BonaResponds!
  • 5:30 this Wednesday will be the PositiveRipples meeting.  In the Swan Atrium (or nearby). It is going to be huge!  Get involved now.  Give a helping hand up rather than just a hand-out.  Microfinance and more to help people through education and economic development.  Don't live near here or want to participate online?  here you go:
  • Haiti continues to be an area of great emphasis.  Big needs this week were from an orphanage with 100 children.  Hard to imagine a group more deserving of a helping hand.  Our goal for the year for them is to send school supplies and $1000 to help pay for teachers (they get $67USD per month!), get them solar electric, and help with their buildings.  (See below for an example of one of their current shelters (this is where they cook now for 100 children.)
  • No location has yet been selected for our Fall Break trip. Stay tuned. 
  • Ryland was hired as our first true employee in the US!  He will be working 5-8 hours a week. This is in lieu of the graduate assistant we have had in the past.  NOTE: this is in addition to his role as a regular volunteer student leader.  Thank you to the School of Business and the Pacioli Scholar program for making this possible.
  • MANY jobs coming up: painting, ramps, sidewalk, grab bars, and drywall to name a few.  We are also almost out of WarmSnugglyBlankets and our hope to have material for 100 donated fell through this past weekend, so look for a blanket making day soon.
  • From Facebook: Thank yous: Always very very dangerous to thank some people as undoubtedly I will miss some, but this week we have received much "behind the scenes" help so I would like to mention and publicly thank at least some (and I apologize in advance for missing others). But a partial list of those who helped this week includes: The Khairullahs, Todd PalmerMike Kasperski, Sue Miller, Jerry Godbout, Joe Coate,Mary Jo Stetz Brockel, Father Dan Riley, John Brad Stevens, Pierre Balthazard, Kate HimesMichael Russell, and Mike Muffoletto. THANK YOU!  Thanks also to Jen for updating the website and to Sarah for running a marathon (NYC) as a fundraiser for us!  Here is where you can donate to that:
  • Want something funny to end the update?  Our new BR  upperbody/AB/Back/shoulder workout:  (DON"T TRY IT!!)
  • 10:30 Saturday, 11:15 Sunday.  Come on out!
  • HAVE A GREAT WEEK EVERYONE!  Make the world better for someone whenever you can :)  Jim
  • Shelter where food is prepared for 100 children at an orphanage near Lascahobas, Haiti. We want to make this better.  We can make this better.  We need your help to do it. 

    Volunteer and Change the World!