Thursday, December 31, 2009

A class project on BonaResponds

Vito and a group of Freshman "Pacioli Scholars" put together the following video. Very cool. Has interviews of a few leaders and of Ed and Donna who we helped locally, and video from Galveston.

YouTube - Bona Bubble - BonaResponds:
"Members of the Pacioli scholars at St. Bonaventure conduct interviews about the service organization that has done countless amounts of work in the community."

(and FTR we were not supposed to look at the camera. ;) )

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mike's "reflection piece"

We have asked many volunteers (indeed anyone can write, just email us), what BonaResponds means to them. Here is one from Mike English, who has volunteered with us countless times both locally and in Iowa. He is now an Americorps volunteer who helps organize BonaResponds as well. (He is a Junior Finance Major)

Reflection by Michael English

My first experience with BonaResponds was during the first semester of my freshmen year during a local day’s event. I had to go to a volunteer service for my freshmen 101 class and decided that this would be the best opportunity to satisfy the requirement for the class. Initially going into the program for the class I had absolutely no expectations to continuing participating with BonaResponds.

During the volunteering I actually enjoyed doing the work that I was doing, not because I was doing something somewhat fun but I became overwhelmed with a feeling of “goodness” that could have made performing the most boring and tedious task enjoyable. I realized that there is a need for people to help others. I honestly cannot describe the feeling that happens after you help a complete stranger in need, all I can say is that I challenge someone to help someone in need and not feel good about helping them at the end of the day.

I feel as though BonaResponds has provided me with a new opportunity to expand myself as a better person in our community. If it were not for the program I don’t think that I would have quite the same outlook on community service, selflessness, and volunteering. What used to be an idea that never crossed my mind has now become a priority to me. I believe that it is programs like BonaResponds that truly make us EXTRAORDIRNARY."

Leaving the Trailer - In Katrina’s Aftermath, Still a Struggle to Help - Series -

Leaving the Trailer - In Katrina’s Aftermath, Still a Struggle to Help - Series -
"Those who have succeeded have provided a valuable lesson to social workers in the region, one that they say the federal government has been slow to learn: it is not enough simply to give money, or rent vouchers, to people unable to strategize for themselves. Those who have achieved the most stability, like Ms. August, have had the most sustained kind of attention: caseworkers who make house calls, counseling, transportation, gentle encouragement and tough love. That kind of care has been the exception, not the rule."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Olean Times Herald's Coverage from Machias

OTH on the Eisenhardt project in Machias

"“It’s the best gift ever,” Vicki Eisenhardt said.

The home was customized to meet the needs of her family, especially her two sons, Dalton, 10, and Wyatt, 8, who both battle a rare genetic disorder that requires around-the-clock care.

Born with unbalanced translocation chromosome 15, a disease so rare that they may be the only ones in the U.S. who suffer from it, the boys have no sense of touch, and extensive lung damage has rendered them unable to speak. They use tracheotomy tubes to breathe, and feeding tubes to eat."

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Helping After the Tsunami | New Hampshire Public Radio | Word of Mouth

Helping After the Tsunami | New Hampshire Public Radio | Word of Mouth:
"David Campbell, an investment banker from Massachusetts, was one of them. His planned one-week trip to Thailand turned into a month-long stay. During that time, David helped manage new arrivals and eventually formed a volunteer-driven-non-profit. Since then, his group, Hands On Disaster Response, has worked in a dozen natural disaster zones. David joins us from Carlisle, Mass. with more"

Listen here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009 | Buffalo, NY | A New Home for Christmas | Buffalo, NY | A New Home for Christmas:
"A customized home was built in Machias for the Eisenhardt family. The family has three children, two have a rare disorder requires around-the-clock care.

Dalton, 10 and Wyatt, 8, are so happy to be in a new home. It was built by volunteers since October.

and look at this!!!

"The new home is already paying off. The family has noticed with a better clean air system in the house, the boys need less suctioning from the tracheotomy tubes."

Great job everyone!! Especially CYC, Pete, and the American Legion.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Thank you from Salamanca

Rose in Salamanca (the Paint job) sent the following:

" I am so late in my thanks, and I am very sorry....[I want to] thank the many volunteers that painted my house this last year. This was done through BonaResponds. I have been very ill and slowly getting back on my feet.

What a great asset to your University. I needed so much help on my house and someone told me about your group. God bless all of you for your help...."


Fall Semester Recap

Fall Semester Recap/Newsletter

"BonaResponds WNY: With no major national disaster, the focus this semester was on helping locally. We worked in Olean, Allegany, Hinsdale, Portville, Cuba, Friendship, Little Valley, Salamanca, Gowanda, Jamestown, and Machias. And remember that is just this semester!"

Read the rest of the newsletter here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Video of A Makeover in Machias | WKBW News 7: News, Sports, Weather - Buffalo, New York | Local News

A Makeover in Machias | WKBW News 7: News, Sports, Weather - Buffalo, New York | Local News:
"Since October, countless volunteers worked diligently to build the Eisenhardt family a dream home. Even though the home is complete, some exterior work needs to be finished. Anyone interested in donating can visit: or ."

Here is the video from WKBW:

Monday, December 21, 2009

'Machias Makeover' aids family in need : Home: The Buffalo News

'Machias Makeover' aids family in need : Home: The Buffalo News:
"..for the past two months, another remarkable makeover has been happening in Machias...Webb and Vicki Eisenhardt on Saturday moved into the 3,800-square-foot house customized for their two sons, Dalton, 10, and Wyatt, 8, who are both battling a rare genetic disorder that requires around-the-clock care.

'I love it,' Vicki Eisenhardt said.

'It's pretty unbelievable,' her husband added.

The Eisenhardts also have a 16-year-old son, Tyler."

Read the whole thing!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Family gets home for the holidays - Local -

Family gets home for the holidays - Local -
"With three volunteer camps in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties, the organization has built more than 100 new homes and has renovated more than 12,000 homes throughout South Mississippi since August 2005. With the help of more than 160,000 national and international volunteers through the United Methodist connection, the disaster response team will be aiding Gulf Coast recovery and rebuilding efforts well into 2010."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

BonaResponds' volunteer in the news

A nice article on Kacey Weafer who has volunteered with us in MS and TX.

SCITUATE AROUND TOWN: A great note from Crowley - Scituate, MA - Scituate Mariner:
"In October, Katherine Weafer, daughter of San and Kevin Weafer of Scituate, began work on her first service project of the year with the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), an AmeriCorps program. Katherine is working with the Crown King Fire Department in Crown King, Ariz., and the team’s focus is on wild land fire prevention....“I chose to do a term of national service after participating in my university's community service program, Bona Responds,” she said. “I had done two relief trips to Mississippi after Katrina as well as Galveston, Texas, and saw what people went through and wanted to give back.”

Way to go Kacey!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Thank you from (and to) Pete

From Pete Andrews

"It has been a true pleasure and blessing working with everyone...see you in late January at the House Warming Party. Date will be set early Jan. Have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed new Year! The CYC, American Legion and the whole Eisenhardt Project Team."
Pete, I am sure every volunteer would say the same to you. You made it a great project to work on! Thanks.

BonaResponds to help build children’s home in Georgia

BonaResponds to help build children’s home in Georgia:
"BonaResponds will help rebuild Leigh Cottage, a children’s home destroyed in a fire two years ago. When the cottage reopens, it will be used to house youth in the United Methodist Men’s Group’s Independent Living Program.

“It is going to be a great opportunity for us to help and for our volunteers to use some of the skills that they have developed building homes locally and helping this semester in Machias,”...“I am sure that the trip will be a very rewarding experience for the volunteers and, more importantly, a big help for the children and families who need the help in the Atlanta area.”"

Friday, December 11, 2009

SBU president addresses common heritage in talk at Mayo Clinic

So I guess BonaResponds has a LONG LONG tradition! I had no idea.

SBU president addresses common heritage in talk at Mayo Clinic:
"It was following a devastating tornado in Rochester in 1883 that a nun, Mother Mary Alfred Moes, presented a plan for a hospital to Dr. William Worrall Mayo. Mother Alfred had been sent to Rochester as a member of a new congregation, the Sisters of St. Francis, established by Fr. Pamphilo da Magliano, one of the founders of St. Bonaventure University.

The Mayo Clinic’s annual Franciscan Lecture is held to remind Mayo Clinic leaders and staff of their Franciscan heritage"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Machias on Saturday is postponed

From Pete:

"We have a pending storm and our fears are to have people traveling to the celebration and have an accident. Due to forecast of up to 31 inches of snow we will have to postpone the festivities on Saturday. We will be weather permitting on Sunday at noon moving the family in with no celebration planned but anyone who wishes to assist in the move please call Pete at CYC.... Sorry for the change but due to circumstances we need to make this call at this time with the information we currently have. Please let everyone aware of this change and information about new date and time will be fourth coming. Thanks for your cooperation in this manner. Pete Andrews and the Eisenhardt Project Team"

BonaResponds seems to do pretty well in this area

United Nations Foundation » New Technologies in Emergencies and Conflicts: The Role of Information and Social Networks:
"Our latest report -- New Technologies in Emergencies and Conflicts: The Role of Information and Social Networks -- looks at innovation in the use of technology along the timeline of crisis response, from emergency preparedness and alerts to recovery and rebuilding.

It profiles organizations whose work is advancing the frontlines of innovation, offers an overview of international efforts to increase sophistication in the use of IT and social networks during emergencies, and provides recommendations for how governments, aid groups, and international organizations can leverage this innovation to improve community resilience"

Two things in this area that we can easily do better:
  1. Getting more volunteers to follow on twitter (and have tweets go to phone during emergencies)
  2. Forming a new sub-emergency group/communication system--example after a big storm, a group that would respond fast.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

More information on our Atlanta trip

BonaResponds will be going to Atlanta Georgia to help build the United Methodist Children's home. The home was destroyed by fire in 2007. The work will be everything from installing insulation, rough wiring, and with luck (depending how far we get) drywalling. And I am sure much more. Additionally, there may still be some flood clean-up. Depending on the turn out we will also like to

These skills are all readily learned and no experience is necessary. We are in particular need of people over 25 years old to help drive vans to and from the Airport. additionally, we will be responsible for our own cooking, so anyone who likes to cook for large numbers of people, please come!

The trip will be from January 3 to 14. You can come for as long or as short as you like. We will arrange for transportation to and from the airport. The cost of the trip is $50 (to cover food) plus airfare (you will be responsible for arranging the air transportation).

There is a meeting to discuss the trip on Thursday December 10th, at 5:30 in the Dresser Auditorium C in Murphy. Please come. Given the late date, we will not have time to have another meeting so please make every effort to attend. If you really can not attend, please contact Steve Gearhart at

For more information, please see our blog

Remember we really need faculty and staff to come to help drive. If you can come, we'd really appreciate it and YOU will really like it!

The United Methodist Children's Home

This is where we will be working in Georgia:

The United Methodist Children's Home:
"Thanks to the efforts of United Methodist Men and GlenCastle Constructors and the generosity of countless friends of the Home, the rebuilding of Leigh Cottage (which was destroyed by a fire in 2007) is going great! Click here for more details and photos of the construction."

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Updates on March 27, 2010 National BonaResponds Service Day

March 27th is the date of First annual BonaResponds National Service Day.

We are asking past BonaResponds Volunteers and all SBU alumni to volunteer in their own region that day to make the world a better place.

Ideally you get together with other Bona Alumni and share a day of helping and reconnecting with SBU, but if you do not know others in your area, you can simply go volunteer somewhere.

We just announced this last Thursday and already the idea has taken root quickly and we have events being planned in Buffalo, Chicago, Charlotte, Singapore, Northern New Jersey, and NYC.

We also have several possibles around the country. But we'd love to have many many more and if we can help facilitate this in any way, please do not hesitate to ask.

Our website has some info on the alumni event and it regularly updated.

All BonaResponds events are open to all, so even if you did not go to SBU please take part. We'd love to have yo along! Especially Villa Maria alumni, HODR alums, and any of the thousands of people we have volunteered with in the past.

Thank you very much for any and all assistance you can give :)

If you want to host an event, please let us know. We'd love to have many many more sites where people can volunteer!

It can be something as simple as going to a soup kitchen and "taking a shift" or as complex as running an entire volunteer "day" with hundreds of volunteers.

I realize that you are all busy and that many of you (and your alumni chapters) already have service days planned etc, but please at least consider it before dismissing the idea. :)

A BonaResponds workday follows the general idea given to us on our first trip to Biloxi with HODR. The entire group gets together in the AM (not too early as we sort of have a tradition of not being great "morning" people ;) ), then breaking up into teams that go to various work sites, work for 5-6 hours, then get back together and have a meal/meeting where each team tells the others about the work they did (sort of takes on some reflection characteristics and we have even had volunteers cry when saying the work they accomplished (hey there is a new slogan, "lets go make them cry!")).

DO NOT be concerned with the size of your event, one work site is great, you do not need to shoot for the sky, any help is better than none!). Honestly, one of our sayings is always "better not perfect". If we waited till we got perfect plans, nothing would ever get done.

Ideally this could also get more alumni involved in our trips (trust me, they are absolutely a great experience!).

If your group can not volunteer that day, then feel free to do any other day in the same time frame. My second choice would be in conjunction with our annual Spring Local Service Weekend (3 days of volunteering the week before Spring weekend April 23-25). But really whenever, just please let us know and please send pictures and recaps that we can share with all of the other volunteers.

The reason we chose March 27th was that that is when we are having our 3rd annual BonaResponds-Buffalo Day (FYI the Buffalo alumni also have other service days throughout the year and we'd love to coordinate a bit on those too). In Buffalo we will be working out of Villa Maria for the second year and working at many locations in the Buffalo area. (We have averaged about 100 volunteers a year in each of the first two years we have been there. See

As a means of collecting stories and making it more meaningful for all, I would love to get pictures/videos from all the sites to put on our web as well as a short report (what we did, how many, etc) and any stories/reflection pieces that the volunteers may contribute.

Also we will be selling t-shirts for all the volunteers though the generosity of Michelle Gregg (a SBU Alum) whose UndergroundShirts company will be giving the shirts to us at cost.

So what do you think? Interested? I really think it is going to be cool. Thousands of SBU alumni all helping on the same day and then being able to share the experience. It would also be something that once started will likely grow and become an anticipated event in future years. But you can be in on the ground floor!

If you have any other ideas of how I can (or more generally BonaResponds can) help make it happen, please do not hesitate to let us know.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Volunteering, it's all good--report from Machias by Jen

BonaResponds split into two teams today. One went to Friendship, the other to Machias. Here is Jen's report from Machias along with a some pictures.

“I don’t know what we’re doing. That’s alright, whatever it is, we’ll do it well!”

I heard a volunteer say this as we stood just inside the doors at Murphy waiting for everyone to arrive this morning. It was cold and “early” on a Saturday morning. I knew we would have good work for the day – both Machias and Friendship projects were moving along well and Pete and Ed (aka “Little Chief”) were well organized. The specific jobs had not yet been communicated to the volunteers, so they had no idea what they’d be doing, but that made no difference - they were there and ready to help.

I love that about volunteering – it just makes you feel optimistic and flexible and ready to go. The more you volunteer, the more you realize how good it feels to help others… you just want to keep doing it. If you haven’t been out with BonaResponds, please come out. You won’t regret it and you will help someone who could really use a hand. And, you can come out as little or as much as you’d like (but trust me, you’ll be back! :))

The Machias group today started by sorting out a large pile of siding – some new, some used – most of which will be installed on the house soon. We then traveled down to the “old house” to dissemble the playground set, which involved taking off a swing set, rock climbing wall, and other pieces and then loading the remaining large frame onto a trailer. We also loaded on the boys’ John Deere carts and other toys from the backyard as they watched and cheered us on from the back window (It was very cold today and the boys have been sick, so they didn’t work with us today like they usually do!).

The second trip with the trailer was a bit trickier. On this trip, we were working at the very back of the yard, loading cinder blacks, flagstone, etc. An assembly line spontaneously formed, and we filled the trailer right up. Between the heavy load and the wet ground though, we had a little difficulty getting going. But, Pete is resourceful and we managed to push (by hand) and tug (with a truck) and get out. During this time, we also had a few minutes to visit “the boys” who had just helped Tyler celebrate his 16th birthday.

Dalton and Wyatt were animated and cheerful as we talked with them and Vicki about getting ready for the move and the big Moving Day next Saturday. Dalton hasn’t decided yet if he wants to ring the bell on the fire truck, but they were both very excited about the fire truck ride!

The remainder of the day we spent at the new house, painting the baseboards and door frames in Tyler’s room, the master bedroom, sitting room, and closet. Many others were there working today too on the lighting, smoke alarms, and finishing work. The house is coming along very nicely and is really looking fantastic.

Overall we had a great crew today – lots of fun and great work.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Signup form for this Saturday's Service Day

While we will accept you even if you do not register in advance, it really makes life easier if you do sign up.

Here is what was sent to the Notice-Board.

BonaResponds this weekend!

BonaResponds will be working this Saturday. We have work to finish in Friendship and in Machias. Friendship work will be painting, varnishing, and putting in the final flooring. There is also work for a few volunteers in Machias on Saturday (maybe more on Sunday).

We will leave from the Murphy Parking lot at 10:00AM. We will be back before dark. Food will be provided. Dress for inside and outside work.

Additionally, we will be making an announcement on Winter Break by Monday of next week. Frequent volunteers will get priority in going on the trip which will likely be limited.

For more information (and to keep current about Sunday) please see our website ( and follow us on Twitter