Tuesday, January 29, 2008
For all who want to go to the Gulf Coast this spring break.
Cost: $219 includes food in MS,transportation, a really cool T-shirt, new friends, and priceless memories!!
We will leave after class Friday February 22, return Saturday March 1.
Work will be mainly in Pearlington, Mississippi and Pass Christian, Mississippi. We will be helping families rebuild the homes and their lives after Katrina nearly ended both.
Open to all 18 or above. Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, Community members.
No special skills needed, just a good attitude and willingness to work.
Come to the meeting even if you are not sure!
BonaResponds.org for more information.
We will be modeling the day after the six local days that we have done in the Olean area. Thus, we will meet at the center at 10 (which is sort of late, but remember many of the volunteers have to travel from Olean), have a short meeting and break into teams. Work in the field until 4 or so, (lunch ill be sandwiches), then get back together for a quick meeting or reflection, music, and food.
We are definitely open to working with pretty much any group or charity in need. We can provide labor, but really do not have the financial resources to provide supplies. Thus, locally that generally means the group we are helping buys the supplies and we use them to paint or whatever.
Given that it is March in Western NY, the weather may be an issue, so indoor jobs or clean up jobs are ideal.
If you have anyone who wants to volunteer or if you have any suggestions for jobs, we'd love to hear from you.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
"Sad to say, but victims of last summer's devastating flood along the Blanchard River still need help, including in Putnam County, reports News 11's Dick Berry. Indeed, efforts are underway to reach folks who may not have qualified for aid and those who slipped through the cracks.
Volunteers from the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee in Michigan are going door-to-door to find out who still needs help. If nobody is home, a green sticker with a phone number is slapped on the front door."
"'If we hadn't had those volunteers, we wouldn't be here,' said Rodrick 'Rocky' Pullman, president of the Hancock County Board of Supervisors and longtime Pearlington resident. 'There's not many homes in Pearlington that were repaired that didn't get some assistance from some type of volunteers. They've impacted just about every person's life in Pearlington.'This is where the majority of us will be working over spring break. Read the full article. They definitely need our help!
Pullman said there were about 900 homes pre-Katrina and there are about 350 habitable to almost-habitable ones now."
(Thanks to Dr. Bob for forwarding this to me).
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Saturday February 2nd--We will be working in Franklinville.
Friday Feb 22 (approx 5pm--Leave for Mississippi)
Return March 1st
Saturday March 29 BonaResponds Buffalo service day--Meeting and working throughout the city. FREE and OPEN TO ALL!!
Saturday-Sunday April 19, 20---BonaResponds Local Service Weekend--all around Olean, Allegany, Portville, and elsewhere! Camp out? Campfire? sky is the limit!
More details to follow
Sunday, January 20, 2008
"While SIFE was in the Bahamas and Foerst's group was in Jamaica, BonaResponds was also on the road.
Making up Bonaventure's third group of student volunteers, BonaResponds returned to Pass Christian, Miss. from Jan. 2-11.
Jim Mahar, Business professor and BonaResponds founder, felt the trip was a success and plans to bring BonaResponds back to the Gulf Coast in the near future.
While in Mississippi, the group did a wide variety of work while conversing with the victims they helped.
'We did trees, hung drywall, put up a roof, built sheds and more,' he said.
Although the condition of the hurricane-ravaged community has improved over the past two years, Mahar thinks there is more work left to do. However, with the help of students, he said the Gulf Coast is healing."
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
1. Used tools for the Disaster Relief Organizations on the ground. We have more tools lost and broken in a day than we can afford to replace. If the donating home owners would go thru their garages and send every "extra" tool they have - it would help. Extra hammers, screw drivers, drills, drill bits, chisels, scrapers, brooms, shovels, sledge hammers, and that extra $88.00 dollar crimping tool (both 1/2" and 3/4") for that new fangled plumbing that works so well down here. And all those extra "fittings" you bought but never worked and you threw them in the garage - we can use each and every one of them.
2. Along with that the extra box of nails, screws, and odds nuts and bolts. We are always scrounging for that special nut or bolt and do not want to run to the hardware store.
3. Paint supplies - desperate need. , rollers, tarps, extender handles. Used or new - we can use them.
4. Paint - I am starting to run short of paint. I either need another donation or someone to pay for $50.00 per pallet shipping fee so I can get more down here. We have given away hundreds of gallons of paint over the last year. It is a desperate need.
5. Ladders - always a critical need for more ladders
6. Saw horses - never enough of them onsite.
7. Cleaning supplies - desperate need for chlorox always.
8. Drinking water - desperate need for bottled water
9. Tarps - because of the rain and supplies being delivered to new home sites we never have enough tarps to cover the loads. Critical need.
10. Rope. No matter how much rope I buy - I always seem to be sending it down the road with a client when they stop to pick up something we have donated to them. I never seem to get the ropes ! back - and I never push the issue. But I could sure use a box load of that yellow rope you can buy at Lowes or .
11. #2 Phillips driving bits - we use them for sheetrock. We never have enough and wear them out faster than we can replace them. Not only the #2's but a few sets of driving bits. It is something that wears out because of the extreme use here.
12. Nails: 16d, 8d both cement coated and galvanized. And nails for our air guns - both coil type and the regular. We use Passload and Bostich. They are expensive and we never seem to have enough.
13. - it does not matter how many dozen I buy they wear out or are lost in transport somewhere to and from the warehouse to the home. We buy them by the dozen.
14. Extension cords - never enough.
15. - we use them to pack our extension cords in. WE desperately need more. It can be the or used backpacks the kids discarded from last year?
16. Big pots and pans for the kit! chen. We never seem to have enough "big" pots and pans in our kitchen when cooking for the volunteers. Could use a half dozen more.
17. Newspaper - yes plain old newspaper. We need it for starting the fire here at the volunteer house. Never have enough. We also use it for covering up and picking up paint and other spills on the job and in the warehouse.
18. Cards, Lowes Card, Gas Cards - always welcome for those unexpected expenses when out on the job. No matter how hard you plan - there is always that "one more thing".
19. Bar oil for the chain saw. Oil for the trucks and cars. If you have extra in your garage your not using - we can use it.
20. Laundry soap - its expensive and we are always in need of it.
21. Toilet paper and paper towels - never enough.
22. Tie down straps - we need heavy duty tie down straps.
23. Ink cartridges for our printers. Every ! DRO in town needs for their printers. If you have e xtra in your drawers that were the "wrong" type - send them here and we will find someone with that printer.
24. Copy paper - never enough
25. - we never have enough
26. - never enough
27. Pens - I can never find a pen in this office. With the client load we have they disapear at a rapid rate. The clients fill out the forms and accidently put the pen in their pocket. Its just one of those inventory items we can not control.
28. 4 x 4 , , and three ring
29. Dish washing detergent. We use it for washing dishes and for mold abatement out in the field.
30. Used lap tops - this environment is tough on computers.
31. Light bulbs - never enough. Everytime we work on a house - we have to round up a light bulb supply.
32. Used lawnmowers and weed whips - we wear out our and wee! d whips. In the spring and summer we mow an extraordinary amount of peoples yards here. If you updated to a bigger and spiffier lawnmower we would be thrilled to take your working used lawnmower. If we can not use it at the time - we have a mile of people we can donate them to.
33. Rakes, shovels, picks, and sledgehammers - we just plain wear them out or the handles break. It costs more to replace the handle than to buy a new one.
34. Parts to repair our wheel barrows - handles and tires.
33. And we need you - the volunteer. This relief effort can not function without more volunteers coming down here. We are in desperate need of both skilled and unskilled volunteers. Both short term and long term. If you are retired and would like to work here in the office or in the field - we would be thrilled to have you come stay with us. We have housing available (albeit primitive) or RV spots. Just give us a call and we would be glad t! o answer any questions.
- We need you come to answer the phone - give the office staff a break
- We need you to come and assist us in the field hauling material
- We need you to run errands in the field
- We need you to come and frame up that house
- We need you to come and move that sheetrock up to the first floor now a house nine feet in the air
- We need you to come and put a roof on that house and the next one
- We need you to come tape and texture
- We need you to come help us pour the concrete for the pilons
- We need you to wash out the wheel barrow when its done
- We need you to put the wheelbarrow back in the truck and take it back to the warehouse
- We need you to sweep the floor in the warehouse
- We need you to help fix the meals for the volunteers
- We need you to help mow that yard for the 86 year old that lost her house and now all she has is a slab and all those weeds and she lives in somewhere, or - but she loves that y! ard and remembers it as it was
- We need you to come and help the long term volunteers who are worn and and tired after two years plus
- We just need you - we have so far to go and 400,000 home were destroyed or damaged and we are barely 20% completed
- And, if you come, could you please bring some supplies - wisdom and all that energy we so desperately need.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Well we are on the way back from The Pass. Like normal I think everyone has mixed emotions. Of course we are all looking forward to our own beds, eating what and when we want, and not having to live out of a gym bag, but more than off setting that desire to be home is the wish to make more of a difference.
The last day of every trip is a nice time to recap and reflect on how big of difference the group did make. For all volunteers there is a great temptation to feel as if what they do does not matter much. This temptation is born of many factors but probably the most important is that each volunteer spends most of his/her day so focused on the single job that is being done (and in many cases redone after mistakes have been made), that the bigger picture is ignored.
And to take the time to step back and see the bigger picture when so much needs to be done always seems like an inappropriate luxury. So most volunteers do not take the time. Instead, they diligently work away on their assigned task. And when it is time to leave and go home, they do not, indeed can not, see how large of impact they actually made.
I was fortunate today to have to deliver joint compound to a team out drywalling at the Whavers. This afforded me the opportunity to see just how far the house had come from the beginning of the week. The progress had been substantial: from the shell of a house when the first group from Olean’s First Baptist Church arrived after Christmas; the plumbing had been completed (thanks especially to Dale Andersen for driving down from Olean when he heard there was a great need), the insulation was purchased (wigth the money BonaResponds raised) and installed, the drywall had largely been hung, and some mudding had been started. There was still much work remaining, but the progress had been significant and substantial.
I then drove by Carl’s house. Volunteers from Randy’s had been working on this home off and on since at least May. Scores and scores of volunteers had contributed to the creation of what will soon be a new home for Karl and his gamily. This week, volunteers from (OFBC),
The team formerly known as the tree team, had downed and carted off about 15 trees and helped build a shed and also helped with drywall.
To view from the trenches, where each volunteer had labored long and hard, showed only the seemingly insignificant “I put up a few rows of shingles” or “I hung some drywall”, or “I cut some trees and picked up some branches”. But the view from a bit of distance showed a different story. It showed that the volunteers had accomplished much work this week and they advanced the recovery efforts. Sure there are years of work left, but for at least some of the “Prisoners of Katrina” recovery is a bit closer because of the work the volunteers this week.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Quote of the day:
"It is like everything is happening but also like nothing. Look around, it is still 2 1/2 years afer Katina and there is still much to be done."
* The shrimp boil at Kimballs went very well.
* All the other groups have now left. So it is just BonaResponds left. Which is a nice for a change. It created room for a game of charades.
* for those who built the shed, it was clearly the most fun job. Why? probably because we could see something concrete. The trees were good, but little interaction with local residents.
* the Gulfport-Biloxi airport looks much better ! Still seemingly not done, but really looking nice!
* Many are going to the coast to see the sunrise. Then work from about 8:30 to 3:00, eat around 5, and then head back.
* Still looking into more places to host volunteers in Feb/March . It seems like it is going to be difficult to find places for many volunteers, so sign up early if you want to go.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
* We had two drywall teams out this morning. In the afternoon we have three ( two drywall teams and one small shed-building team).
* The area had tornado watches last night but as far as I know there were no actual tornadoes in the immediate area.
* Carrie cut her thumb but is ok. It may impinge on her text messaging for a few days.
* Gas expenses have definitely been much higher than last year. The van I drive just took $86 of gas.
Why was I thinking of Thurman Thomas? Because much of today was spent waiting, but when we got to work, we did get quite a bit done.
It started at breakfast which is usually followed by a meeting with Randy, but today he was busy so we waited for about 15 minutes before realizing he was not going to be able to make the meeting. For me, the day started by going back to finish a job we had started a few days before. After determining the property line, there was only really one tree to cut down, but it was probably the biggest tree I had ever cut down (something I have said at least three times this week).
But first we had to put a new chain on the saw. Oh, but wait, the only chain we had was the wrong size. No worries, we were working near the downtown hardware store. Oh wait, they do not have the right size. So a drive to
But it is lunch time, so we go back to base. We are supposed to go to dry wall in the afternoon. The dry wall team has been working at the Whavers’ house for most of the week and need a hand today holding up drywall to the ceiling.
But before we leave, we get a different job. Randy wants us to go help build a shed, but we have to wait for him to get back to show where and how. But he is in the midst of about a hundred things so we have to wait for about an hour.
After yet another wait, we get to work on the shed with a team from
So in spite of much waiting, like Thurman Thomas, being a volunteer sometimes is much waiting and then a fast burst of activity.
Updates on other jobs/things:
* The roof at Karl’s is done! They finished it today.
* Met Jen from
* The team from
* Most of the team went to Sonic for dinner. Those who stayed were treated to great bread and pizza made by Joe Coate. They also had spaghetti and a few other things made my me.
* tomorrow we will go to a Shrimp boil at Kimball’s.
Monday, January 07, 2008
This morning the BonaResponds team and the Group from Boston College went to see a giant Live Oak Tree in Long Beach. It is huge. Randy takes each group there to experience it. You can literally get lost in the size. Randy uses it in conjunction with the story he uses during his introduction for new volunteers. The story, now with an accompanying painting that hangs on the dining hall room, is that each volunteer brings is but a little dot, but put together, these dots make up an entire tree. The tree in Long Beach is meant to remind us the size of the recovery effort and that no one person can do it by him/her self.
After that I again worked with the tree team. With the help of Joe's drywall team in the AM, we cut 7 trees down and cleared others that were already down. In addition we had 4 people (Amanda, Ashley, Christina, and Ryan) learn how to safely use a chain saw.
Not sure how the two fit together, but the should. Maybe I will be able to figure it out after a good night's sleep.
In other news, the roofing crew has gotten a ton done on Carl's house VERY VERY impressive.
Bridgett, Rich, Christina, Tim and a few others (sorry I forget who went) worked at Barbara's sanding, painting, and doing some lawn work.
The drywall team did get to do some more this afternoon at the Whavers' house. This is the family we adopted. The money we raised went to the buy the insulation for the house.
What I will say is that the half-day trip to New Orleans that has become sort of a tradition on BonaResponds' Gulf coast trips (at least those after the initial emergency was over) has ended . Today it became abundantly clear that many of the volunteers have not yet achieved the level or responsibility that is needed to earn time off in New Orleans.
It is unfortunate as it will almost assuredly mean that we will lose some volunteers for future trips, but it must be done. The potential risks are too great to chance such excursions.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
I have to admit, there is something about working in the
I used to attribute "it", whatever it was, largely to being at HandsOnUSA (for instance see Have a HOUSA day). But I have learned that the same idea can be experienced at any of the hundreds of volunteer camps operating throughout the
What do I mean? There are probably more examples of this than there are people who have volunteered in the Gulf, but to make the idea more concrete Take the jobs my team have been working on for the past few days. It started out two days ago on a group of us went to cut down two dead trees. Before either tree was finished, a neighbor had stopped with an offer of hot tea (it was a very cold morning) for all of the volunteers. When drinking the tea we got talking and she asked whether we could cut some trees on her property. The trees were all dead and ranged from fairly large to rather small and something that we could handle, so a few phone calls and some paperwork later, we had agreed to cut five trees on her property.
And thus began yet an other rewarding, yet unplanned, adventure in volunteering.
The action in this story was fairly mundane: cut, chunk, and carry away five trees. It was, as the leader of a more skilled team so graciously reminded me "unskilled work". And it may be relative to some jobs, but that does not mean it is unimportant work or that the volunteers don't bring skills that are generally not considered necessary to cut trees.
So what made the job noteworthy? Lois. Over the course of the next day and a half, she won her way into the hearts of all of the volunteers. Not through the tea or hot, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies (although surely neither hurt), but with such kindness that is rarely felt in day to day life, but that is seemingly the norm in the course of a volunteer’s day.
Here we were helping a woman who lost her husband in the storm and whose life was turned entirely upside down, yet it was she that was offering volunteers the use of her car, baking cookies, and talking to each and every volunteer as if (s)/he were her long lost relative.
As we were leaving, Lois thanked us and told me that we probably saved her and her daughter over $2000 and that this was money that would be used to help put her grand daughter through college.
As I walked back to the van, my mind again wondered back to playing the roll of scorekeeper. Lois’s $2000 vs our cookies and tea and thank-yous.
You know what? It is a trade I would make any time. We definitely got the better end of this one.
So as a tribute to that idea, I decided to offer this commercial idea to MasterCard:
Boots and clothes for trip ----- $100
Sleeping on cots and eating what is served: $200
Getting a heartfelt thank-you from someone you helped
*The camp got much more crowded today as the swim teams from
*Drywall work got started at the Whavers house. They are out of money so may not be able to purchase the additional drywall.
* Ran with Pete this evening on the beach, alone this AM.
*Dinner was spaghetti but my real treat was a bowl of boiled peanuts.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
Let's see where to start today? We had three teams that went out. A tree team, a roofing team, and an insulation team. All seemed to have good days.
From our meeting tonight we all learned that the insulation team completely insulated the walls of the Whavers' future home. They also saved me a trip to Bay St. Louis by getting the ceiling insulation as well. I did not get over to see it today, but by all reports they had a very successful day!
The second team did a portion of a roof. The roof was enormous. Jerry and crew did a great job of first taking some shingles off and then starting to putting the new shingles on. Did I mention the roof is on top of a house that is build on stilts? Great job!
The tree team was saddled with me, so they only got four trees cut down and carted off (for a bonfire--see below). They did a great job using less than stellar equipment and with a bumbling team leader.
Jen, Ariel, and Katie made dinner tonight. It was baked potatoes with various toppings from chili to cheddar.
Starting tomorrow we will also change the way post dinner clean-ups are done. We are assigning a team per day. For instance, the tree team does it one day, the roofing team the next etc. That way everyone "gets to" do it
In other news we got three new people today :) Christina, Rick, and Sean flew in and Tim performed admirably in the role we used to cal Ira at Handson of going to pick everyone up.
The tree team helped out Lois (not real name) who prior to the storm ran a bed and breakfast. She surviced the storm by hanging onto a large tree. She was such a joy to help. She served us tea, offered her car to us, and even asked all the females is they wanted to stay in her new home where they could "even get a bubble bath." She also offered us her lot to have a bonfire at night. Ironically, Henry (again not real name) who helps Lois a self proclaimed fire bug, agreed to help us start the fire.
And so a large fire was started out of one of the four large piles of wood the tree team helped make today.
Katie and I then went to pick up some groceries. Upon our return I was more than surprised by the two large infernos that were burning. But it was already late so we began to put it out.
Uh, yeah. How? no running water, no shovels etc. But somehow (with the help of a few shovels and a few pots found in the neighborhood), we got fire out just moments before the fire dept showed up at the bar across the street worried there was a fire.
What did I learn today? That with some team work and perseverance, volunteers can do pretty much everything!
Thursday, January 03, 2008
As a sports fan and a finance professor I am used to keeping score. From miles run, to laps swum, to number of questions correct it is what I do. But I do not know how to keep score in the Gulf Coast.
On one hand much progress has been made on many fronts. I drove through Biloxi today to see how the city is coming along. And I am happy to report that it is making substantial improvements. Most of the houses we worked on during our first three or four trips have been completed and are now all occupied.
In Pass Christian the Bridge to Bay St. Louis is the big accomplishment and on almost every block a new home seems to be going up or just completed. (For comparison purposes, look around your own home town. Most streets (let alone blocks) have no new homes. So by these measures, the recovery from Katrina is strong.
It is heartwarming to see the rebuilding of cities, towns, and most importantly lives. And I must confess it was thrilling today to tour neighborhoods from East Biloxi to Pass Christian and see the impact that BonaResponds has had as we toured with volunteers who had worked on the houses on past trips. So at first glance it might appear that things are all rosy.
But while things are unquestionably MUCH better than they have been at any point since the storm, things are far from perfect. For instance on my run tonight it struck me how much still remains to be done. While it is true that on almost every block there is a new house going up, on many blocks it is the only house. Reread that. Not the only new house, the only house. The neighborhood may be composed of 8 slabs, an empty foundation, a deserted pool, a pile of debris, and a For Sale sign. Again look around your own neigborhood, how many debris piles? deserted properties, or foundations do you have.
So when I get home and people as me how things are in the Gulf, I will be sure to tell them that things are much better, but far far from perfect and much much work remains.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
The roads look pretty bad right now, so hopefully things will get better before then. The drive will be about 20 hours. Just can't wait! lol....
Actually it is ok. It becomes fun and is a great way to get to know those you are traveling with.
More when we are on the road.
Thanks for all of the kind wishes and food donations we got today!!! They are very much appreciated :)
Heard from Laura tonight by phone. It is 27 degrees there tonight!
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
"Today was great! We got up with the sun, had breakfast, and headed out to work on a man named Carl's house. Two teams of 2 worked on putting up siding, and by the end of the day we had a whole side finished! We should be able to get the whole thing done in 2 more days. 2 girls worked on roofing, and did a splendid job. Our construction guru, Wes, is a local guy who helps out at Randy's everyday and has become a part of our group. He cut the pieces of siding, fixed all the nail guns we constantly broke, advised us on how to do the things we didn't understand, and kept us well entertained. A few of the older women took the tiring task of running siding up the stairs to those of us working on the scaffolding.
Fantastic news!! My dad called a plumber who goes to our church, Dale, explained the Waivers' situation, and without hesitation he agreed to come help us out. Dale drove straight through from NY to MS (alone), then worked a full day. Thanks to Dale, about $800 from FBC, and a few very zealous teenagers, we should be able to finish plumbing the house in the next 2 days. The electricians finished their work today, so we're making some serious headway.
My parents spent their morning hunting for an orthopedic surgeon but ultimately gave up. After their wild goose chase they helped Dale shop for plumbing supplies. Everyone is pretty worn out, so some of us won't be up to see the new year ring in, but everyone is glowing with satisfaction after a hard day's work. There are fireworks on the beach, so I think I'll walk down there for a bit. Happy New Year from all of us in Mississippi!Peace,