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 Stickk.com), 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) https://www.slotted.co/bonaresponds-spring-2015.

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 viahttp://BonaResponds.org/
* Money for scholarships can be made via http://HaitiScholarships.org/

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 http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1501166.htm)

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: http://bit.ly/1aQpWrv

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 athttp://www.bonaresponds.org/isd.html
* 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 (BonaResponds.org) 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 http://BonaResponds.org page.  That is by far the best.  You can also email BonaResponds@gmail.com, 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.