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!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions

It has been a while since we had a basic interview about BonaResponds, so we collected the most recent series of questions that have come in over the past few weeks:

Q & A  with BonaResponds

Q. How can I join?
A. There is no need to join, just show up and help!  We are open to everyone.  There are waiver forms etc when you show up but they take only a couple of minutes.  But we don't have regular (non-work) meetings, we have no dues, etc.  Just volunteer and change the world!

Q. I don't know how to _______ (build a ramp, put in a floor, cut a tree, gut a house, etc.).  What can I do??
A. You can learn on the job.  It is all relatively easy work.  As Jim says regularly: "If I can figure it out, so can you".  And besides, there is speaking with the family we are helping, taking pictures, running errands, etc.  There will always be something you can do to help!

Q. Are you still collecting books and school supplies?
A.  YES!  YES!  YES!  We'd love more books (especially early childhood books) for local schools and we are always looking for school supplies (and small toys, soccer balls etc) for both in US and in Haiti.  (We will also be sending some to Costa Rica and Liberia this year.)

Q. How do you decide what jobs to accept?
A. We pick those that we think we can have a large impact on and that do not involve too high of transaction costs (for instance travel time).  The hardest thing to do is to admit we can not help everyone.  We always have a waiting list.  It is simple economics really: we are an underpriced (and generally free) asset.  So we are in high demand.  We do try to get to as many jobs as we can, but we can not do it all.

Q. Why Haiti?
A. Haiti is an extreme situation.  It has incredibly good people but also incredible poverty.  It is near enough that shipping is feasible. There are many groups doing great work there.  Most of our assistance is helping them do what they do best.

Q. What are your greatest needs?
A. Leaders, volunteers, and money.  Generally in that order.  It works best when the leaders work with us for a while so they can understand how we work, and also work with us at least once a month to see the fruits of their labor.

Q. Can I help even though I don't go to Bonaventure?
A. ABSOLUTELY yes!  We are open to everyone.

Q. Do the students get class credit for volunteers? Do the leaders get paid?
A. No and No.  We are volunteers. We do this when we can fit it in.  Almost all of us have full time jobs or are students.  (There are some classes-for instance Clar401--that have service hour requirements and BonaResponds does count towards those hours).

Q. Would you be willing to work with our business/club/team/church?
A. We'd love to!  We can help provide tools and jobs, and we can work with your group.  It is a great way to give back to the community and a team building experience.  (In fact new research shows that fraud is lower at businesses that work together on community service projects.)

Q. What is the best way to know when you will be working?
A. Facebook or twitter.  It should be noted that our live feed also appears on our website ( so you can always look back there if you are not on social media.

Q. I think I have a job that you should do, how can I submit it?
A. There is a tab on our main page.  That is by far the best.  You can also email, But the form is much preferred.

Q. What is International Service Weekend?  You have mentioned it a couple times now, but I don't know what it is.
A. It is a weekend (this year April 11-12) when we ask people locally and around the world to go make the world a better place AND to share what they did.  It is based on two basic premises: 1. that if we all do a little, much will get done.  2. We need positive role models.  Sharing what you did (#BonaResponds) will encourage others to also do more good deeds.

Q. You seem to do so many things.  What is your mission?
A. We want to help make the world a little better.  It really is as simple as that.  We don't like needless suffering. We want to leave the world a little better than we found it.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Tree Planting in Haiti: WIN:WIN:WIN

Tree planting is going to be a bug push this coming year for us.  you can read more about why this is important in Jim's FB post:

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A new role model for us all

On Facebook I have been writing a series of role model-hero pieces.  Here is today's.  I am cross posting it here becasue Nisha is truly the epitome of what drives BonaResponds.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

WarmSnugglyBlanket Blanket Making Day

Come help us make over 100 blankets for people with cancer.  We will be making them in the Damietta Center in Francis Hall on the East side of St. Bonaventure University.

 Sign up today!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Who we are: an introduction to BonaResponds

A big thank-you to the Olean Rotary club for the opportunity to speak at their luncheon today.  It was a good talk and I hope those present weren't bored by Jim's talk.  Here is the handout we gave that describes who we are:

Introduction to BonaResponds

If that does not work, here is a link and the actual write up. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Haiti Earthquake 5 years later

Five years.  It seems like yesterday.  In the blink of an eye, so many things changed.   
Water bottle I used in Haiti. 

I remember it perfectly.  I was in Atlanta on a BonaResponds trip to help build a Children's Home that had burned to the ground. It was cold.  

It was cold. We had just got back to “camp” and were having our nightly recap/reflection meeting.  

And then I got the following tweet from CNN:

And I somehow knew the future was changed.  I had no idea how bad the quake was yet.  But I knew instinctively that help would be needed and BonaResponds would be involved.

In the following hours and then days and weeks, the enormity of the earthquake became known:  millions of people had lost their homes and hundreds of thousands their lives.

In almost real time, news reports coupled with  thousands of tweets, blogs, and facebook posts brought the world a glimpse of the disaster to us all.  The conditions were incredible and heart breaking.  The suffering, beyond words.  An already weak infrastructure was pushed to its breaking point.   But in the midst of this disaster and suffering came my first encounters with the incredibly strength, love, and resiliency of the people of Haiti.  

By the time we arrived back at campus, thousands of helpers (paid and volunteer, military and civilian) were rushing into Haiti.  The next weeks brought harrowing tales of more suffering and some successes.  

Fear of the conditions held many back, but the true heroes went anyways.  My brother Pat, I am proud to say, was among the very early responders when he and a crew of doctors and nurses from Denver’s Children’s Hospital set up camp (literally and figuratively) in Port au Prince.  His nightly updates led BonaResponds to begin collections of money and of medical equipment.  

While University officials forbade a BonaResponds' trip to the suffering country, several of the leaders teamed up with AllHands and went to Leogane anyways.  While there, the enormity of it all was first glimpsed and a long-term commitment forged.

Not only was the earthquake the worst disaster I had ever seen, it had hit a nation that was already in great need of assistance on almost all fronts: health care, education, infrastructure, and economy.  The quake had broken buildings, destroyed roads, flattened schools and killed way too many people, but it had not beaten the spirit of the Haitian people.   

To spare the long story of our efforts in the years since, let me say that there have been many victories and some defeats. Overall things are getting better and that BonaResponds is playing a role (however small that role may be).  This is not to say that assistance efforts in Haiti are complete nor that BonaResponds is done helping.  There is still a great great need for assistance and our efforts are just hitting stride.  

Five years after the quake and some of my best friends are Haitian and there are few places I would rather be than in Haiti.

Five years after the quake, our hearts still go out to each and every Haitian who lost loved ones in the quake.  

Five years after the quake, our collective consciousness still hurts as the impoverished conditions of so many are made even more challenging by the great losses they suffered.  

Five years after the quake, we reaffirm our commitment to work with Haitians to not only rebuild, but to build back better and to give all Haitians the future and opportunities that all people deserve.

Five years after the quake, you are still needed.  Whether you are a Haitian living in the slums of Port au Prince or a high flier living in a NYC Penthouse, you can make the difference in the lives of many others.  Be a leader.  Organize a garden program.  Donate to HaitiScholarships to fund an education.  Donate to BonaResponds for solar for schools.  Collect lightly used school supplies. Tutor students. Donate to plant trees. But do something.  

Do it in memory of all of those who died, but also do it so that such a disaster never happens again.   You can be the difference. We all MUST be the difference.

Change the world for the better. It begins with you.    

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Our goals for 2015

It is that time of year again. Time to make goals and resolutions for the new year. Here is what we hope to achieve in the coming year:
Garden program in Gonaives Haiti run by Djemson Jeudy

Our overall goal is to make the world better in any way we can. Which, as our mission states, is to help. We want to make the world a better place for everyone.

Here are our more specific goals for 2015 that we believe will make the world better.
  1. Respond with significant numbers of volunteers and resources to make an impact to any national disaster where we are needed.
  2. Make a difference locally by getting people around and over roadblocks in their way.
  3. Develop leaders who can expand and improve our work locally and globally.
  4. Get more volunteers from  the local community, faculty/staff, alumni, students, and local schools. This also means more groups and chapters around the country doing their own work. 
  5. Continue the successes in Haiti schools, orphanages, and other non profits with school supply distributions, solar electric, gardening programs, and our new composting toilet projects. We hope to see all of these successes continue to prosper and grow.
  6. Continue and improve efforts for people who can use a helping hand wherever they are located: including, but not limited to Liberia, Costa Rica, Haiti, and the Philippines.
  7. Start PositiveRipples to assist micro-enterprises/businesses near and far.  (Invest at least $10,000 in Haiti and Uganda working with businesses as well as $20,000 locally through SIMM).
  8. Improve/develop tutoring program to spread teaching of English, Science, Math, and Technology (with HaitiScholarships) in Haiti (and elsewhere?)
  9. Increase fundraising for HaitiScholarships by 20% to allow at least 40 students to attend school in Haiti for the 2015-2016 school year.
  10. Distribute a minimum of 365 WarmSnugglyBlankets to people with cancer. Also in this area we want to work to reduce cancer’s impact.
  11. Distribute over 500 books to local school children.
  12. Establish a sound financial position to get a new (used) van when needed.
  13. Expand the impact of Good News From Haiti
  14. Develop the financial resources needed to get a new van if/when needed.
  15. Have fun making the world a better place!  

Friday, December 05, 2014

Weekly update

Weekly update

Much good news this week!

  1. The shipment to Haiti has begun arriving!  With school supplies, irrigation kits, and more!  It will take several weeks to be completely delivered, but the first boxes are arriving! :)  :) 
  2. We paid $275 today for a composting toilet for the HaitiGoldvision School and Orphanage near Lascahobas Haiti.  This should reduce the spread of cholera and other illnesses brought about by poor sanitation.  
  3. HUGE Thankyous this week to our donors!  Without you, BonaResponds is just a good idea!  John and Ann, Pat, Dresser's Dress down day, and Mary especially (remember I have about a week lag from donation to when I see it, so if your name is not here, wait til next week!)  BUT THANK YOU!
  4. Another BIG thank you also to Dave Volz and the Cuba-Rushford teen leadership program.  A HUGE help!  they collected almost 300 pairs of shoes and several boxes of books!  GREAT JOB!  CR is always one of our biggest helpers!  THANK YOU!
  5. Finally a THANK YOU to Michelle, Shelly, Karen, and Lynn for donations of books, shoes, and even winter coats!
  6. This coming week (Dec 13) will be the big BR-Dallas fall workday where they will be working with disadvantaged youth at the Love For Kids Christmas picnic (see for more information.
  7. Online shopping?  Please buy via GoodShop and pick BonaResponds for your charity!  Every little bit helps!
  8. There will be no Winter break trip this year.  The combination of a shortage of funds, few available leaders made a trip impossible.  We will stay busy locally and online, so please get involved.
  9. Nice coverage in the Olean Times Herald this week!
  10. The Next WarmSnugglyBlanket day (where we make blankets for those with cancer) will be Saturday January 31, 2015.  We hope to make 100 blankets! 
  11. International Service Weekend is April  11-12, 2015.  mark your calendars and plan an event!
  12. Looking for a present for someone who has everything?  How about donating in his/her name?  A solar system costs $1500, a ramp costs about $1200, a composting toilet $275, School for a year for a student via HaitiScholarships costs about $200,  a gas fill up on one of our vans costs $75, a new hammer costs about $25, a shovel costs about $20.  
  13. We will be working locally this Sunday (11:15 by the trailer).  A VERY VERY full agenda is on tap.  Dress warmly!
  14. Happy December!  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Update on many fronts

My top ten list for the week:

In this relative lull in the post snow cleanup, a fast update on other fronts:

1. A huge THANK YOU to all who helped in Buffalo!  The snow was truly breathtaking.  To see the community come together was encouraging and heart warming.  We made three trips up and had almost 50 volunteers.  We helped to clear 29 driveways, about 15 fire hydrants,  several roofs, doors, and walkways.  We now wait and hope the flooding is not too bad.

2. Haiti continues to be a source of both our great successes and bitter frustration.  First the bad news:  key parts of the solar system we donated to a school in Leogane were stolen and the one in Gonaives burned up. Because of this, we have placed the VERY needed system on hold until we can figure out how to stop the crime.    It is mindboggling frustrating and humbling.  On the positive side, we have heard great successes at schools and orphanages in Lascambas and Gonaives.  (GREAT JOB Jean and Djemson and the others)

3. Instead of solar in Haiti we will fund a few composting toilets as a test.  (At least they are tougher to steal or break!).  They will make things safer in many ways and reduce disease.   Additionally, the waste can be composted into fertilizer.  The program has the added benefit of being cheaper too!  Only $320.  We will be paying $270 on at least a couple to start.  Why $270?  A condition of one of the donors was that the Haitians raise at least some of the money as well so that they would truly see its worth and not just as another throw-away NGO handout.

4.  Also in Haiti as part of our efforts to improve education, we will be working with @Haitischolarships, some people from the St Bonaventure School of Education, as well as schools in Haiti to create better standards and on teacher training.  This will include better reporting from Haitian schools and tracking of attendance (teacher and student) and tracking improvement.  This is a BIG WIN!

5. Today the last of the money raised in the #EndEbola leaf raking campaign will go out.  If anyone wants to continue to help in a very impoverished area, we sure would love the help!  Today the CYC crew is back in Monrovia.  Their Kids Camp starts soon.  (Dec 10)

6. Our book collection has gone VERY slowly, so we will extend it until Dec 8th. Remember these are for local families with children from pre K to grade 12.  Books can be left off in 104 Swan Building on the SBU campus.

7. On Saturday night, our van suffered a broken window while parked on campus.  If anyone wants to confess to the vandalism and pay for a new window, we will NOT take it to the police nor security.

8. We will be working this weekend.  Best guess is in Olean, but we may go to Buffalo again if the needs look great still.  Stay tuned.  

9. THANK YOU to those of you who donated this past week! Denise, Todd, Sean, Pat, Ryan, Gary, Patricia, and those who helped with food this weekend.  We have said many times, but it deserves repeating "Without you, BonaResponds is just a good idea."

10. Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone!  We all have so many things to be thankful for.  We often forget that when we see all misfortune and sometimes pure evil that happens.  The good is much more common even though it tries to hide itself.  Be good!  Be Safe!  Volunteer and Change the world!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Snow cleanup day 3

We are working to the East of Buffalo in Cowlesville today (Sunday).  They were hit with about 90 inches of snow there and according to friend and colleague Tracy who lives there, they have many people there who simply can not get out.  Including at least one woman who is fighting cancer (we will take a WarmSnugglyBlanket!) and needs to get out for doctor appointments/chemo etc.

WE WOULD LOVE MORE VOLUNTEERS!! Meet at Cowlesville Volunteer Fire Dept about 11:30. (FYI Cowlesville is the winner of the Most snow contest w 92? inches!) It is well East of the city so if anyone from the Rochester/Batavia area wants to help, it is a great chance!!