Sunday, October 26, 2008

University Wins Olean Award

From the Olean Times Herald:
"OLEAN - St. Bonaventure University has been named recipient of the 2008 Enterprising Business Award given by the Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce."
and in the article:
"Mr. Sayegh said through endeavors such as the Paccioli Project, efforts such as BonaResponds, and commitments such as Bona Buddies and The Warming House, the university has attracted students who are committed to service. This not only enhances the campus environment, but provides a wide range of resources, opportunities and assistance to the regional communities."

Jen and Ed laying floor braces

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Only four volunteers but making

Only four volunteers but making progress. putting in floors hanging joist hangers for ceiling in back room.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Heard again from friendship.they would

Heard again from friendship.they would REALLY like some help.can we get five or six vol from 10 to 1 on SUN? EMAIL me if you can.

3 hours can make a big difference!

This is a test of

This is a test of uploading directly to the blog from my phone. not as nice as twitter but many dont see twitter

Local day canceled

As you know by now, today's local day was canceled. We had four jobs tentatively scheduled.

  1. West Clarksville: continue to help on Mark's house
  2. Friendship: continue to help on Donna and Ed's house
  3. Bob's Woods: cut some new trail, trail maintenance, and work around pond
  4. Olean: painting street signs
Unfortunately the cold, wet, and windy weather led to the postponement of all the events. They will be rescheduled.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Details on this Saturday's work day

Friendship and West Clarksville houses will take priority. If we have some people left and the weather is not too bad we'd like to work some on Bob's woods.

If the weather is much better than forecasted and we have time, we'd also like to get some painting done, but confess that it is unlikely.

Meet in Murphy at 10:50. We need transportation (once again no school vans) so if you can drive your own car and take people we would REALLY appreciate it!

Be sure to come dressed to work. It could be wet and cold. Gloves, boots, etc.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Help BonaResponds when you shop online

Support BonaResponds while you shop

With holiday shopping coming up, you can help support BonaResponds while buying items at nearly 700 of your favorite online stores. Merely go to ( and Enter BonaResponds as the Charity you shop for. BonaResponds will get between 1% to 5% of your purchase price.

So if you are going to be shopping anyways, you might as well help BonaResponds help others!

BonaResponds local day this Saturday!

BonaResponds Local Day This Saturday

Come work with BonaResponds this Saturday in West Clarksville and Friendship building houses. We want to get the owners into their new homes by winter. Come out and help. 11-4:00. (meet in Murphy 10:45).

We'd also like to do some outside work in Bob's Woods if we get enough volunteers.

We need transportation so if you have your own vehicle and can drive it would be a big help!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another Cedar Rapids Thank you!

A million thanks to all of you who came out here to help with the flood
effort. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to see such generosity and
As a resident who has done hours of work to help my neighbors, I can't even
imagine the sacrifices you endured to help out a city of complete strangers.
My husband, and I got to meet some of you as you worked on my friend's house
one Sunday afternoon. I was amazed at the enormous progress you had made.
The world is full of angels, and you are proof of that. Thanks again, for your
help and that reminder.
Sincerely, Mary M.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cedar Rapids' recovery

There seems to be some debate about the speed of recovery in Cedar Rapids. I have NEVER agreed with FEMA, but in this case I do, the progress is very very slow. Yes it was a horrible disaster, but the progress has been very slow even by Gulf Coast standards.

Not only are most homes still uninhabitable (we checked the homes we had gutted in July and only one was even close to being ready AND even it is still at least a month off). Most of them have not yet been touched and 4 months after the flood we were still taking personal items out of houses prior to even thinking about gutting the now mold infested buildings.

From the Gazette online: FEMA Says Cedar Rapids Moving Too Slow:
" The surprise $77 million awarded to the city Tuesday for public flood recovery came because federal officials believed the city was too slow in asking for money.

"We just got concerned that the city was moving a little slower than what we wanted," said Eric Wynn, the Federal Emergency Management Agency public assistance coordinator in Cedar Rapids."
Not everyone agrees:

Congressmen view Cedar Rapids's recovery | - Cedar Rapids, Iowa City:
"Doug Neumann of the Downtown District explained that about 75 percent of the downtown businesses representing 85 percent of the district's work force are back. Very few of the ground floor businesses are back, at least not in their former spaces."
75% HUH?? Really. If this is true, it is very very well hid. Yes the large firms are back, but many small firms especially in and around Czech Village still need much help.

Not sure? see for yourself. Go volunteer. They can use the help!

knocking a window out

One of the really cool things about flickr is they now accept short videos too. Here is one Laura took of me knocking out a window.

A thank you from a Cedar Rapids resident

We received the following letter which will be included in its entirety:

Dear Bona Responds Volunteers,

We send you more greetings, thanks and appreciation from a weary but determined Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Sunday afternoon we did what we have done in so many free moments since June 11th. The two of us served in some volunteer capacity around our city, then drove through the battered neighborhoods.

Yesterday we drove by the house owned by our friend Joyce—and there were all these helpful people in masks, and two St. Bonaventure vans parked on the street. Knowing little about your school but seeing such obvious volunteer spirit, we stopped by to see how the house was looking. (My wife, Mary, Joyce and others worked on this same house a few days ago to begin the recovery.)

What we found was a GREAT DEAL of progress. It was so welcome a sight, work on one more house on one more block of 1,300 ravaged blocks of our city. We also found this humble but gracious spirit, such lovely people who gave up a college break to help us. Young people, faculty, people who cared so much, gave us so much.

I was overcome with emotion in that dusty, noisy moment at the curb. I am becoming so even now in typing these words. Please accept one more grateful THANK YOU from Iowans-- to you, the Empire State Angels who have demonstrated their faith and hopeful helpfulness to former strangers who are now appreciative neighbors.

With Grateful Thanks,

Steve C.

Leader meeting Monday 12:30 in Mur 105

Leader meeting for anyone who is a BonaResponds leader (or anyone who wants to become one!)

12:30 Murphy 105. It will be thirty minutes or less!

agenda includes Bob's Woods, local service days, planning of winter trip, spring break trip.

Also 6pm on Tuesday there is a ceremony where we will be the recipient of a large donation. It is in the Rathskeller. Please come if you are able. We would like to show the donor his gift is appreciated.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

BonaResponds - Iowa

BonaResponds - Iowa
Originally uploaded by Nif.
Steve and Rob gutting a home. This is part of Jen's many pictures of the trip. More (with more still to come) are available here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Gutting and more...

Just realized this was done on Sunday but never got actually put onto the blog. Sorry for the delay.

Today our job was mainly to gut homes. It was a pretty good day. We worked on the first house for most of the day. Towards the end of the day some friends of the owner stopped by and expressed her (the owner's) thanks.

Then we went and began clearing out a home directly across from the Cedar river. The property (in and outside) is in desperate need for clean up. The home itself is absolutely covered with mold.

We only had time to do the outside and to haul some of the things from inside (couch and other furniture, personal items etc. so that with luck gutting can begin tomorrow.

Because we the job ended a bit early we decided to go visit some of the homes we had done in July. The results were mixed.

None of the four main houses we did are yet lived in. The main reason according to the owners is that they do not know what the city is going to do with the area near Czech Village. Some fear it will be razed while others are just waiting for a new higher levee to be built.

Chris (the first house) was the most upbeat. He seems to be ready to meet whatever happened, but was hopeful it would happen sooner rather than later.

We then went uphill a few streets and met were just slowly driving by the final home we worked on and Jan saw the van and came running out to say hi. They are not yet back in the home but will be soon (in fact their cat appears to be living there now).

No one was home at the other homes.

As for today, we have more pictures up here.

Mike Shoveling wood chips

Hard day today. We worked on parks in Cedar Rapids with HODR.

Good crew!

many more pictures are here:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Made it to Cedar Rapids

Just to let everyone know, we made it here. 4 AM central time, so under 15 hours. :)

catch 2 hours sleep and work soon.

Will keep you posted.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Plans for Iowa

There are 14 people going.

We will be leaving at 2:30pm pm Friday from over by the maintenance building.

We will be going to Cedar Rapids. Please be sure to bring sleeping bags, boots, etc...
For a list of what to take consider this post from many trips ago, but still works. Two additions: pack as light as possible and please use soft bags (gym bags go under seats, suitcases do not

Please have the forms all filled out:
Necessary forms 1, 2, 3

see you on Friday!

We will return after work on get to SBU on Tues.

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Thank you from the SPCA and Cuba Job report

A thank you from the Cattaraugus county SPCA that can also serve as a site report :)
"thanks again for sending students to the SPCA this past Saturday. They got a lot of work done in the hours they were here including: Feeding newborn kittens, stacking tons of washed blankets used as beds in the kennels, Walking lots of dogs (the dogs really enjoyed the day!), cleaning feed and water bowls, and prepping outside kennels for painting (they had to be bleached and scrubbed). The team worked enthusiastically and were a pleasure to be with. One of the visiting students from Villa actually adopted a dog from us that day.

The Bonaresponds team is the greatest!!"

Kindest regards,


Pat led a small team to Cuba to paint the patio of the woman who on welcome day (August 23rd) had her garage painted.
"For the October 4th local service day, four of us –I, my father, and two Villa Maria students- finished up a project started by BonaResponds on August 23rd. The work for this most recent service day was to sand and repaint an elderly woman’s patio. This job for us was rather mundane; however, to her, there was nothing mundane about it. The woman we helped can only get around with great difficulty and recently has been in and out of the hospital. Despite this, she helped us out as much as possible, giving us all the supplies we needed to finish the job.

Ideally, her patio will need a second coat. However, our work significantly improved its appearance, and it will preserve her deck for this winter. Most importantly, though, was the elderly woman’s gratitude for what we did that day. "

Reflections on Local day from Kim and Villa Maria

Kim led a group of Villa Maria volunteers down to our local service day this past Saturday. Here is what they had to say about the day:

"Thanks again for inviting us to join you for the local service day on
October 4. The Villa group had a great day, and came back with good
memories, sore muscles, and one extra passenger
(more on that below!) A few thoughts/stories to share.

One of our students, Julia, chose to work at West Clarksville.
When we all got together before mass, I asked her why she decided to go
there, and she shared that her family had a house fire one month before
Mark. She sustained burns to her hands, and her family lost nearly
everything. Julie said that working at Mark's house was as helpful to her
as it was to him.

*Three members of our group (Pat, Lauren, and Alison) went to the
SPCA, and loved the experience. One student, Pat, brought home a
four-legged souvenir- a Shih-tzu!

* Two of our students, Jamila and Angelina, went into the Olean
streets to paint signs. They really enjoyed the day, meeting new people,
and working outdoors on a beautiful day.

* Five of us (Jessica, Laurie, Lloyd, Don, and I) worked in Bob's
woods. Loved being outdoors, and we got a lot done- filling holes, clearing
trails, digging out tree stumps. In the afternoon, we trail blazed a new
trail.considered Lloyd's idea that perhaps some BR goat volunteers would be
helpful, but the job of cleaning up after them might make their help a bit
less inviting! Jen was a great leader, and we had fun!

I've already had some of our group express a desire to come there
again to help. If you have any other local days planned, even at just a few
sites, let me know. We may come down with a small group to help..

Again THANK YOU from all of us. for the invitation, the hospitality,
and letting us join the BonaResponds family. We are looking forward to the
spring Buffalo Service day. Plan on using Villa for a meeting place before
and after the work day."

Jen's video

This is a video of all of our events (well almost all) since the beginning. It is 13 minutes but very good and well worth your time!!

SUCCESS!!! A second van!

We have found some more drivers! We can take another van to Iowa!

SUCCESS! We lined up enough drivers for a second van! (Thanks Tim and Sara!!).

So, we have more space. It is not too late, but act! Go to and register for the trip. It will be fun and you will get much good work done. There is no better way to spend mid-term break.

Cost $100.

From the Notice-board announcement:
BonaResponds Iowa!

BonaResponds is going back to Iowa for Fall Break! Yes this weekend! ACT FAST!
October 10-14th

Cost $100. Space is very limited. First come basis. Sign up at

Working with Hands on Disaster Responds (HODR) in Cedar Rapids. BonaResponds was there in July and we are going back to help rebuild. You can come. We are not having an interest meeting. It is this week. Must sign up as soon as possible.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Some Site updates from Yesetrday

New Trail Work
Originally uploaded by Nif.
Yesterday we had just over 60 volunteers working at 8 sites around the area. These included continuing the building on two homes in Allegany County and making trails through Bob's Woods.

Here are some reports from the Site leaders:

From Ashley who worked on a really cool time line of the history of BonaResponds since Katrina. VERY GOOD!
"We spent the October 4th local service day
collaborating ideas, words and pictures into a great time line that spanned the lifetime of BonaResponds. We had a little bit of trouble finding an open computer lab and had to switch a couple time, but it made the day that much more interesting. We spent several hours working on the computers, collecting information and pictures and bouncing ideas off each other and finally printing everything we needed for the time line. Before we hung the time line up in the RC, we took a short lunch
break. Hanging the time line proved to be an interesting experience as well but working together and sharing ideas we got the job done."

Update from Bob's Woods Team (Jen was the leader on this one)
"We spent the first part of the day working on various parts of trail maintenance in Bob's Woods: filling holes along the trails, especially on the dike sections, clearing branches, cutting out stumps and roots on the trails that were dangerous for walkers/runners, and trimming back bushes. Another group worked on planters near Francis, and another cleared a trail near the creek which is being prepared as an "observation look-out" - great for nature walks. The team came together right before lunch to clear some downed trees and branches behind Francis. During the rest of the day, we trail-blazed! In a brand new section between the back fields and the River Trail, a new trail through the meadow section began its transformation from some orange ribbons sprinkled throughout the deep grass and brush and strategically marking the route to a "real trail". There is more to do to finish clearing the brush and grass out to the field. Then, a pass with a lawnmower will finish the trail... or, if you ask the volunteers, several goats would be just perfect! Our team was a friendly, helpful group that worked hard and enjoyed the nice weather and fresh air. Great day!"
And Mike who led the West Clarksville crew send this along:
"We had a very, very productive day. We accomplished more than I thought we were going to. A group of us gathered about another third of Mark's total winter supply of fire wood, while another laid down the first floor, floor barrier and plywood. Along with that we also insulated the back wall of the first floor. Another group created steps for the back doorway and stacked fire wood on the outside of the house.... Once again he [Mark] greatly appreciated us helping him out again, and is so enthusiastic about being able to move in before winter"
Steve added to West Clarksville:
" We put in and finished the floor (a bunch of chipwood boards, i thought it was plywood but it wasn't). Lots of firewood was collected again. For the upstairs floor they're gonna polish it and then put linoleum tiles down. Some parts downstairs will be carpeted. Insulation was started on the back wall."

Laura and Jim's speeches from Francis Day

On Saturday October 4th, St. Bonaventure celebrated Francis Day by honoring service groups on campus. The highlight of the day was a concert by New Orleans jazz musicians who came to thank BonaResponds for the work they have done along the gulf coast.

Jim and Laura got to speak at it during intermission. Here are their speeches.

And yes it was freezing in the gym. Notice how I keep rubbing my hands to stay warm. LOL!

HODR on NBC nightly news!

Many of you have seen HODR has deployed to Haiti. Today NBC had a nice piece on John Hancock a HODR volunteer.

BTW that mud is unbelievable!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

A word of congratulations from Randy

Sorry we can't b there in person, we will definitely b there in spirit.Is there anyway we might do a brief call on speaker phone? I would love to say hi and praise the work you guys did here and do everyday! ....Keep me informed when and what you guys are doing....Congratulations to all the BR Rangers on a well deserved day of recognition!! Randy

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Iowa Announcement


Because we have been unable to get more drivers, at the current time we will only be taking one van. If we can get more drivers approved (they must be either over 25 or a SBU graduate student and in either case have a good driving record), we will take two vans.

This is a problem since we have more people wanting to go than can fit in a van. So, rather than raise prices (which the economist in me knows is what we should do), we will limit those who can go. The pecking order will be those who went in July get first priority, leaders who have been to at least two of this semesters events and helped plan the events get second priority, and then it will be on a first come first serve basis.

Cost of the trip will be $100 and will include transportation and food while in Iowa. For a list of what to take consider this post from many trips ago, but still works. Two additions: pack as light as possible and please use soft bags (gym bags go under seats, suitcases do not.

btw we did look into taking a bus but HODR can not handle that many volunteers currently due to changing nature of work and the large number of volunteers already there.

More Thank-yous

Over the past few days Ashley has been taking some thank you notes we've received and typing them into so that all the volunteers can know their work was appreciated. We do not have permission to use names so they will be generic to city.

From Olean:

I want to personally thank you for the caliber of the young adults that serve on the [BonaResponds] they are awesome! [BonaResponds] are truly a unique force in our community exhibiting character and dedication to a task which will build a strong relationship to a school of high standards. Thank you so much for blessing us with such a group of young adults to help. A great work was accomplished … as we are renovating the house next to the chapel for Sunday school rooms. I felt that perhaps a personal hand written note would speak volumes more of our gratitude than a manufactured letter. The words from the lyrics of a song come to mind which I think indicates the kind of students you have. “He is no fool if he would choose to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

From Cedar Rapids Iowa:

"Thank you very much for all of your help on my flooded home. BonaResponds were so great…I’m a single parent who needed help and they were there for me. They did everything I asked and then some. I couldn’t have done it without them. Please keep helping us. Everyone was so happy to have them in my neighborhood. We all are helping each other to get their this I hope I can help repay you some day. Thanks again very much."

More to come soon...

Story from the OTH

Jim Mahar responds as alumnus, professor and relief organizer:
"Since 2005, BonaResponds has made six more trips to the Gulf Coast and trips to six other FEMA disaster sites, Mahar said. The group, funded primarily by donations, has provided relief in Enterprise, Ala., and Buffalo, N.Y.

Mahar said he remembered a saying from Biloxi that would influence him and the group’s spectrum of service.

“Just because we go home doesn’t mean we have to forget.”
Uh, technically the saying was "take that magical feeling home with you. There are humane societies that need help, there are poor people who need help. You do not need to travel to Biloxi to do good." ---or something like that, was said by a volunteer from TN in late December 2005 or early January 2006 at an all-hands meeting in at the then Hands on USA.
"Mahar said the saying inspired him to steer BonaResponds to the community he grew up in. The group has performed service throughout the Olean area, volunteering at the SPCA, serving food at homeless shelters and building homes."
It is one of a series of article on SBU alumni in the Local paper to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the University.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A few Thank-You's

I have been meaning to post some here are two from Friendship..

First from Donna:

"I just want to say a great big huge thank you to all of you!
Words can not express are greatest appreciation of all your help you done for us ! Are prayers and many blessing to all of you !

Ed and Donna "

and then from a Niece:

" I also would like to thank you very much for helping my uncle out, you are wonderful for taking the time to help someone in there time of need. Ed and Donna have fallen upon hard times, and are lifted up by people so willing to take time out of their lives to make a difference in someone else's. I can't think of two more deserving of the award, always ready to help someone in need themselves, down but definitely not out, they won't see anyone else that way either. Go St. Bonaventure Go!"

October Newsletter

This will be short!
* Remember this Saturday October 4th, we will be having a work day from 10-4:00..mass will follow in the RC at 5:00 pm, a dinner is at 6:00 with Creole food!, followed at 7:30 by a concert in the RC by a New Orleans jazz band that is flying up to thank us for the work we've done in the Gulf. After the concert there will be fireworks on the back field.
Meet at 10:00 in Murphy Aud. Work includes home building (Friendship and West Clarksville, SPCA, Bobs Woods, preparation for concert etc, painting, working on bicycles and more) Come dressed to work. If under 18, please have parents sign this form
* We need volunteers during the day but also afterwards for before and during the concert to staff information tables, serve as ushers, and to take pictures!
* We have a DESPERATE need for drivers for our Fall Break trip. We have two vans reserved, so we need drivers. Must be either above 25 or a grad student and in both cases have a clean driving record. If you qualify, you can go for free. We are that desperate!
* Fall Break trip is to Cedar Rapids Iowa. October 10-14th. We will be working again with HODR. Cost is $150. There is VERY limited availability. (priority for those in Iowa with us this summer, then BonaResponds leaders, then on a first come first serve basis.
* Winter trip will probably be from January 5-17th. Location still to be determined. Top choices Galveston, Houston, SW Louisiana, Bay St. Louis MS, or Pass Christian MS. Details will follow the Fall Break trip.
* We will be taking orders for BonaResponds Hoodies. Cost will be $29 plus Shipping. Order now before it gets cold!
* remember for more info on most of these and other events, see and our blog at
Hope to see you this weekend!
be sure to join our Facebook group and you can also follow us with twitter: