Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fonkoze | Going the Distance - Fonkoze's Work in Haiti

Fonkoze | Going the Distance - Fonkoze's Work in Haiti: "Fonkoze's Work in Haiti:

When we have had to send money to Haiti (for instance for distribution of School Supplies), this is the bank we used.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

School supplies to Haiti a Thank you!

Great news :)

From Jean Kendy who is organizing the school supplies we have shipped to Haiti: There were 9 barrels in this shipment:  They went to schools in the Leogan.

hi Jim,
how are you doing? today i finished with the distribution [of school supplies] but I'm going to send the photos for you tomorrow....the directors, students, teachers said thank you to you. they are very happy for the supplies and they needed them. 

thanks to you and to others people who collected and donated to send the supplies for them....

jean kendy
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Allegany, Portville Flood Cleanup

Here is the video from the Olean Time Herald on our flood cleanup in Allegany and Portville:

I just came upon this when looking for the new video the Olean Times Herald is making. This is best video I have seen of the flooding.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

WIVB (Channel 4 out of Buffalo) coverage of BonaResponds

Channel four stopped by as we cleaned out a basement in Allegany.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

BonaResponds to help local flood victims but we need your help!

Help your neighbors

This Sunday BonaResponds will be organizing a work day to help local flood victims cleanout flooded basements and they need your help.

Last week’s floods affected many local households leaving behind flooded basements and lawns covered with debris.  BonaResponds, a volunteer organization that has responded to Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and fires in 13 states and has sent over 30 pallets of supplies to Haiti after the January Earthquake, will be helping locally to clean up after the flood.

This past weekend BonaResponds cleaned out 4 basements and tarped a trailer whose roof had been damaged by the winds that accompanied the storm. 

“Despite the cold and snow, the work this past weekend went very well.  We had a group come over from Gowanda.  We helped them last year when their town was flooded and this year they returned the favor.  It really was a pretty heart warming story,” BonaResponds leader Jim Mahar

The SBU based volunteer organization expected more jobs this weekend because the water is down and insurance companies having had a week to assess the damage.  “Last week we were a bit early and could not even get to some jobs because of high water.  This week we may be a few days late, but with work during the week it is the best we can do.  We have already heard from eight homeowners in Allegany, Portville, and Hinsdale for this weekend and I am sure we will get more later in the week” Mahar added. 

But there is a problem:  A need for volunteers.   BonaResponds’ student leader Steve Gearhart put it like this: “There is no good time for a flood, but this one is particularly bad since we have finals.  I am extremely busy this week.  But the need is here so BonaResponds will do what we can so we really could use the help of local residents.  Like they said in Gowanda last year, it will be ‘Neighbor helping Neighbor.’” 

BonaResponds will help anyone who was flooded but priority will be given to the elderly and disabled.  All labor is free but the homeowner is asked to provide any necessary supplies (for instance if sheetrock (drywall) needs to be replaced that is the responsibility of the homeowner).

Any homeowner who needs help is encouraged to contact the Cattaraugus County EOC office at 716-938-2244 who will be helping to schedule jobs.  “It is great working with them.  They have made our jobs much easier as they can help to organize and screen jobs which saves us time to just work,” said Jen Mahar who has been handling scheduling of the clean up jobs for BonaResponds.

BonaResponds alumni leader Nate O’Lay added “We really like it when we get to work with the home owners. Even if they can do it themselves, why not call and get some help?  It makes the job much more meaningful for all involved.  And if we can save the homeowner some time, very often that person will then come with us to the next job to help.  It is a fun way to build community and as the saying goes ‘many hands make light work’”.

To volunteer please register at  The work day will begin Sunday at 10:30 from the Murphy parking lot on the far west side of campus. BonaResponds is open to all.  Under 16 must be accompanied by an adult and under 18 must have parental permission (form is available at  Dress warmly in layers and expect to get wet feet. 

BonaResponds will provide lunch and a light meal back at campus at 4:30 for all volunteers and homeowners.   If anyone would like to donate food, hot chocolate or coffee to the volunteers, these can be dropped off at Murphy at 10:30 or email to arrange a drop-off at a work site.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Video and pictures of flooding around Allegany and Western New York/Northern PA

BonaResponds will be helping locally with flood clean up.  The exact times and places will be determined as water levels fall.  However we expect to be working Saturday and Sunday (and maybe Friday afternoon depending on conditions).

We will need volunteers to clean out basements, put on a new roof (at least tarp it up for now), and help residents as needs arise.  Since times and locations are uncertain, please check our website ( or twitter ( for regular updates as the weekend progresses. 

Our best estimate at the present is 10:30 both Saturday and Sunday.  The work will often be wet and cold.  So dress in layers (MANY LAYERS) and wear boots, gloves, and hats.

Also sometime BonaResponds Volunteer Jack Fuller is in this one:

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A thank you letter for a wheelchair Ramp we did in Randolph

"I wanted to express my sincere appreciation for the the help provided by...BonaResponds!  I believe finding BonaResponds was a Godsend.  Without the help from BonaResponds the wheelchair ramp would not have been built for at least two years, as that is how long the waiting list was for the program my mother qualified for.  There was no possible way that I physically could have built the ramp and paying someone for their labor would have taken its toll on my finances to say the least.

I believe every community should have such a wonderful volunteer team to help out, the world would be a much better place!  

Donating their time, spending it away from family and hobbies is such a selfless act, and I thank God that the team went out if their way to help me.  It warms my heart to know people like them still exist in the (sometimes crazy) world.  ....BonaResponds truly makes miracles happen!


Laurie T.  
Randolph NY"

SBU president Sr. Margaret shared this with me and the author (Laurie) agreed to its posting:

Help support the Olean Theater Workshop

There has been no more helpful local group than the Olean Theater Workshop.  Not only have they helped us raise money for Haiti, they have been a part of almost every local service Weekend since 2007.  Now we can help them!

They have qualified for a Pepsi Refresh Grant.  Now all they have to do is win it!  and that is where you come in.  Vote! 

The Olean Theatre Workshop is in the running for a $25,000 grant through the Pepsi Refresh Project and we would very much appreciate your vote here:

or by mobile phone TXT (normal text rates apply) 104274 to Pepsi (73774).

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thank You. No, Thank You. -

Thank You. No, Thank You. -
"Adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They're also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have greater resistance to viral infections.

Now, researchers are finding that gratitude brings similar benefits in children and adolescents."

I would have to imagine they also volunteer more too! :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Take: Gratitude at Katrina’s ground zero – CNN Belief Blog - Blogs

Coastal map of the U.S. state of Mississippi, ...Image via WikipediaMy Take: Gratitude at Katrina’s ground zero – CNN Belief Blog - Blogs:
"They don’t complain. Few here do. They are too busy putting the Mississippi Gulf Coast back together after it was eviscerated in 2005 by sustained 125 mph winds, hop-scotching tornadoes, and a thirty-plus-foot storm surge.

Home sales were up last month and prices were steady. Unemployment was slightly higher, but still lower than the national average. Only 93 FEMA trailers remain on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The casinos and many hotels, restaurants and other businesses have re-opened.

In... Bay St. Louis, there is a new fire station. Elementary school children are out of trailers and attending class in a brick-and-mortar building for the first time in five years. The flattened Little Theatre has relocated to one of the few historic buildings left standing after the storm."
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

F1 tornado touches down in Walworth & Racine County's - Milwaukee Top News |

Good news! It does not look like we will be needed in Wisconsin or Illionis. The damage was not widespread and the local area should be able to handle it. If anyone from the affected area hear otherwise, please let us know.

From Milwaukee "paper":
F1 tornado touches down in Walworth & Racine County's - Milwaukee Top News |
"At a press conference held at the Zenda Public Works building, Town of Linn Police Chief Dennis Wisniewski said, “ We have four house that have been damaged, three barns, and power lines down. We have officers checking out the area a little bit more Northeast to make sure we don't have any more damage.”

Monday, November 15, 2010

Help For Haiti - MedShare

Help For Haiti - MedShare: "This August, volunteer videographer Byron Small accompanied two MedShare employees on their trip to Haiti where they visited Hopital de Pignon, Grace Children's Hospital, and St. Nicholas Hospital. While there, Byron captured footage of MedShare-donated supplies being put to use and the Haitians response to international recovery efforts. Through his lens, you can see the difference Medshare - with your help - is making in Haiti."

Some of our early shipments of Medical Supplies went here. Nice video!

Unbreakable: Building disaster-proof cities -

Unbreakable: Building disaster-proof cities -

Sanjay Gupta from Kobe Japan, 15 years after their earthquake.
"The challenge now for cities like Port-au-Prince is not to just rebuild as safely and expeditiously as possible -- but to create a city that is safer than the one before the earthquake.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Notice Baord Announcement

The following was sent to the SBU notice Board.  Since many of you are off campus, I thought you might like to see it as well

BonaResponds and the local Islamic Community are teaming up to raise money for recovery efforts in Pakistan.  Yesterday (November 1) the Red Cross released its most recent estimate that over one million people are still unable to return to their homes.   Now you CAN help.  We will have drop off sites around campus where you can drop off your NYS 5 cent deposit cans and bottles.  We will convert them into life saving cash that will help fund the shipment of medical and school supplies as well as be given to relief agencies who are on the ground in Pakistan.

Late last week I spoke with some friends in Haiti.  They stressed the need for soap and hand sanitzer, and tarps.  We will include these in our next shipment to the Earthquake and now disease (and soon to be tropical storm) ravished nation.  You can drop more school supplies (calculators, pens, pencils, crayons, and small notebooks are especially prized), as well as soap, sanitizer, and tarps at my office (231 Murphy) or at the Allegany Park and Shop.

Finally- many jobs this coming weekend.  From another wheelchair ramp project, to helping a poor mother-to-be prepare her house, to teaming up with Villa Volunteers at the Buffalo Galleria Mall to raise money for next year's food packing event.  We'd love to have you out.  Saturday and Sunday!  Mark your calendar. More info to follow or on  We especially need people at the galleria mall on Sunday.  If you can make it, please let us know! 
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YOU CAN help Pakistan

The ring-pull tab on an aluminium drinking can.Image via Wikipedia
Following up on the bake sale that was held in Conjunction for our Haiti Food Packing event, we are happy to announce another fundraising event for Pakistan.   For the next week (Tues to Tues) we will be collecting beverage cans (pop cans, bottles (or soda if you prefer), bottle water, and beer cans/bottles) that have a 5 cents New York state deposit.

We will then turn the cans in for money that will be used to both send medical supplies and to fund  relief organizations in Pakistan. (so no we are not going to Pakistan--that sigh of relief you hear is from Hopkins ;) )

Look for containers around campus and a large container outside of the Reilly Center. What you may have thrown away can help get the poor of Pakistan back on their feet.

While out of the news, the size of this size of this disaster is staggering. For some facts on it see this video from the Relief Society of Canada. (pretty cool music too)

Here is another (older) video that shows the scope of the damage

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A report from Haiti on Cholera and rebuilding progress

200 permanent homes.  Really?  Pathetic.  Sad.  How can it be so low?  There is NO EXCUSE for this.


Heard from Vinnie's sister:

" I'm writing this letter for my brother Vinny St. John. He is so grateful for the new friends he has found in St. Anthony's Church. He enjoys going on Sunday.
Vinny really likes the young people that visit him and have become his friends...Vinny and I are also grateful and truly appreciate the ramp built by the BonaResponds Team and the group of folks from N.Y. as well as the folks from St. Anthony. I don't know how you did it (the ramp) but Thank You for saving my brother. He is no longer 'stuck inside.' You also restored his faith in people and God.
Thank You again for blessing my brother (and his ramp) with your kindness.
Sincerely, Bridget (Vinny's Sister)"
From Jean in Port Allegheny:
"My heartfelt thanks to the BonaResponds group!

A job well done!   I am so touched that you would do this for me.  ... you must be very proud of this group.  And rightfully so.  I will never forget this work."

Also heard from Beverly (Olean):   She had a cancer scare, but is doing better.  She is speaking better but still needs back surgery.  She was excited when she saw a St. Bonaventure University commercial for SIMM.  She said hi to everyone and that the ramp is wonderful and they have it all decorated.

Heard from John at SPCA.  Pizza making starts at 11:30 and will be done by 3:00.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pizza Sale for SPCA

This weekend one of our events will be to help make pizzas!  (Can't say we don't give you options!)...

Want one?  Let Jim know.

From SPCA:

     PIZZA SALE              Sunday, October 31, 2010

$8.00 per pizza, 13” Cheese or Cheese & Pepperoni

Made fresh – ready for your oven or freezer

Pizzas can be picked up at the Pulaski Club
(1104 N. Union St. in Olean) from 1:30 – 3:00 pm
or delivery available after 3 pm

See a representative of the SPCA to place your order

Proceeds benefit the animals at the SPCA in Cattaraugus County

Cholera report from Haiti

(From source) This cholera patient is drinking...Image via WikipediaCholera is an amazingly bad disease that can both spread and kill quickly.  It has killed over 250 people in Haiti and has both the world petrified of the next major disaster in Haiti.  

From AlJeezeerahEnglish:

For more on how to treat and prevent Cholera from Doctors Without Borders--the short answer is top prevent dehydration (it can kill within hours) and get clean water.  The problem of course is that clean water is at a real premium. 

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Friday, October 22, 2010

A letter of thanks from Fr Jud (letter to the editor) CAmden trip

Letter to the editor - (Oct. 22) - Opinion:
"Father, can you build me a wheelchair ramp?'

Vinnie, an occasional parishioner at our church in Camden, St. Anthony of Padua, cornered me at a parish event. In Camden, N.J., one of the poorest and most dangerous cities in the United States, requests for help are frequent and often impassioned. I immediately gave Vinnie some stock responses: 'Have you tried the county office for disabilities?'; 'It's a very busy time, can you ask me again in a few weeks?'; 'Let me see if someone on the staff has any ideas.' I could tell from Vinnie's expression he had heard all this before, so I said, 'Let's pray that the Holy Spirit sends us someone who can build you a ramp.'

Within 48 hours, Professor Jim Mahar messaged me on Facebook: 'Given that the Northeast U.S. has been pretty lucky disaster-wise recently, BonaResponds has no clear-cut 'must help' site for our midterm break (Oct. 8-12) ... so I was wondering if you need any help? Would you like 15-20 volunteers for a long weekend of work? We could bring tools, are very skilled at wheelchair ramps etc...'

Be sure to read the while article! Fr. Jud says lots of nice things about BonaResponds! :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Short work day this weekend (Saturday)

Meet behind Murphy at 11:00.  (hope to be done by 3 at latest)

Depending on volunteer turnout, jobs will include:

  1. Packing school supplies for Haiti
  2. Replacing stairs at Carter's house (WW II veteran)
  3. Finishing up at Allison's House (painting) 6th St. in Olean
  4. Lattice and handrail at Tony's ramp in Salamanca
  5. Sign/Trail markers for Bob's Woods
  6. Clean up storage area
  7. Deliver washer/dryer to SPCA
  8. Paint wheel chair ramp in Port Allegany
  9. Pick up medical supplies to ship to Vinnie in Camden
  10. Make a sign for SPCA
It should be a short/fun day.  No lunch will be provided since it is such a short day, so please eat in advance. 

School supplies to Haiti

School Supplies for HaitiImage by Bona_Responds via FlickrCurious what goes into a 55 gallon barrel to ship to Haiti?  Different thing go in each barrel since we aere just dealing with donations...
Here is a representative barrel.
School Supplies for Haiti
Qty Item
500 sheets Lined Writing Paper (24” x 18”)
500 sheets Drawing Paper (12” x 18”)
1 World Map Poster
25 Large Tablets (8.5” x 11”)
50 Medium Tablets (6” x 9”)
8 48 Pack Crayons
8 16 Pack Crayons
5 Children’s Scissors
96 Pencils
36 Beginners Pencils
800 Index Cards (3” x 5”)
50 Pens
12 Boxes of Chalk
1 Pencil Sharpener
1 Box of Paper Clips
1 Box of Push Pins
1 Bag of Rubberbands
2 Rolls of Scotch Tape
1 Roll Masking Tape
6 Note Pads (3” x 5”)
1 Stapler and Box of Staples
1 Pack Post Its
5 Post It Pads
1 Pack of Highlighters
2 Boxes of Markers
1 Bag of Toy Dinosaurs
2 Packs of Stickers
100 File Folders
3 2” Binders
1500 Sheets of Filler Paper
12 Sharpie Markers
10 Highlighters
15 Pen Lights
4 Steno Pads
100 Envelopes
2 Soccer Balls
2 Softballs
2 Tennis Balls

These barrels are being shipped to schools and orphanages largely around Leogane and Port au Prince.

How can you help?  We'd love some money for shipping.  Also we still need more tarps to send.  And small items...please no binders.  (but calculators, pencils, pens, crayons, rulers, or even small computers (netbook).

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Some pictures from Camden (Via Fr. Jud)

Here are some pictures Fr. Jud has been taking of BonaResponds working (and playing) in Camden.

From facebook album.

Einstein and the bug bite

Lesson of the day: It is all relative. (that is Einstein was right, it is all relative)

Vinnie is a Camden resident who had a stroke about three years ago. Since then he has struggle to care for his elderly dog (Bear) and many cats (some of whom he saved when they had been abandoned by others).

Vinnie's stroke left much of his left side of his body disabled. It is a major challenge to stand and his left hand can do little.

Talking to him today he taught us all about perspective. You see he got a bug bite on his arm, and was happy about it!

You see, he could feel the bite. It itched. And that was the first time since the stroke that he could feel his left arm. What was a source of misery for others, had become a major encouragement for him. Maybe it would continue to get better.

Which just goes to show it is not what happens to you, but how you think about what happens to you that matters.

Monday, September 20, 2010

BonaResponds Fall Break Trip: Camden NJ

We are going to Camden NJ. We will be working out of Fr. Jud's St. Anthony of Padua Parish.
It will be fun. All BonaResponds trips are!

The cost will be $75 which covers food when we are there, a place to stay (you will need sleeping bags), and a t-shirt.

 What to bring:
  1. A good attitude
  2. Work clothes (jeans, long sleeve tee, short sleeve tee, sweatshirt, workboots (ideally steel toed).
  3. Gloves--leather is best IMO
  4. Sun glasses/safety goggles
  5. Sleeping bag (pillow if you want one--yoga block works great and is smaller)
  6. A pair of shorts would not be a bad idea
  7. Flashlight
  8. Phone charger
  9. Digital camera
  10. Towel
  11. Toiletries etc (contacts, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc)
  12. Water bottle
  13. Granola bars etc for drive

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Volunteers assemble more than 113,000 meals for Haitian children at St. Bonaventure event

Volunteers assemble more than 113,000 meals for Haitian children at St. Bonaventure event:
"On a solemn day of remembrance, hundreds of volunteers filled the Reilly Center Arena to offer a reminder of man’s nobler intentions.

Spearheaded by more than 350 St. Bonaventure students and community members, more than 500 volunteers — divided into four shifts — spent roughly eight hours Saturday, Sept. 11, packaging more than 113,000 meals for Haitian children affected by January’s devastating earthquake."
An article for the SBU website....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mini-service Weekend

While volunteering with 500 others is great, small workdays can be just as special. You get to know others better and really see the impact that you are making. This weekend BonaResponds will be having a mini service weekend. We will have a small team going to the SPCA on Saturday to paint the Kennels, work on the dog walking trail, and walk some dogs. The Cattaraugus County SPCA is a no-Kill shelter and some dogs have been there many years. The least we can do is to assure they get a walk!
On Sunday we plan on offering a one hour chain saw lesson (Chain saw safety is a MUST and no one who has not been trained can use our saws after disasters) and then work on the Bob's Woods Trails for a while.

Sign up:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Great video of us packing 113,184 meals!

Coverage of our event:'s Michael Kintner made a really cool video of the day. Here is it.

WIVB Channel 4  and WGRZ each have some pictures but no video online.

We will post pictures later in the day (time to run now, and then go work for a bit (remember we are meeting at 10:30 behind Murphy).

Friday, September 10, 2010

Update on Saturday's food packing

On Saturday over 400 volunteers (closer to 500!) will be packing meals from 9AM to 6:30 PM in the Reilly Center. It should be a very interesting event to watch. We will have music playing and everyone should be having a great time. We will also be selling clothes that were donated for a "garage sale" that are an absolute screaming deal at $2 or less for often times never worn clothes, "Jesus is a Saint Fan" t-Shirts, and More!

Please stop and think about the size of that. 100,000 meals.

This is part of the FoodForHaitiNow project that was started back in the weeks after the January Earthquake in Haiti. The project has been a group effort of BonaResponds, Villa Volunteers, Daemen College, Olean Theater Workshop, Park and Shop, and Cuba-Rushford, Allegany, Olean school students. It also has been a testament to how SBU can pull together. A giant thank you in advance to the Maintenance staff, the Athletic Dept, Security, the PR dept, Hickey Dining Hall personnel, and many many others who have been amazingly helpful and patient with countless changes of plans. But the biggest thank you goes to the volunteers. Without your commitment this could not get off the ground. So please honor that commitment and attend at your agreed upon time. 100,000 people are depending on you!

Also we will be having a bake sale in conjunction with the Olean Area Islamic Center to help relief efforts in Pakistan. So bring some spare change and enjoy as you watch people pack food that will be going to schools, orphanages, and tent villages.
For more information on this even, please see or

If you would like to volunteer, we could use some people still on the 4:30-6:30 shifts as well as for take down 6:30-8:00 on Sat, and set up 5:00 PM today at the back of the RC.
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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Livestrong Weekend

October 2-3rd. 

BonaResponds will be holding a local service weekend in conjunction with the National Livestrong Day. We will have volunteers working at multiple sites across the area. As part of the Livestrong Day our focus will be on helping Cancer survivors.

If you know of any cancer survivor (or current patient) that needs some free help, be it mowing the yard, raking leaves (although early October might be a bit early), painting, or fixing a porch, or who know what, we would like to help.

But we need your help. Before we can help, we need to know who needs the help. So if you know of a cancer survivor who lives within 45 minutes of Olean that could use a little helping hand, please let us know! 


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

BonaResponds General interest meeting

There will be a BonaResponds General Interest meeting at 8pm in the Murphy Auditorium on the St. Bonaventure Campus.

Agenda will include:
  1. What is BonaResponds
  2. Who are leaders
  3. Saturday's Food Packing Event
  4. Update on Haiti events
  5. Local events
  6. Other ways to help (Pakistan?)
  7. Fall Break Discussion
It will also be covered on "Cover-it-live" if you can not attend.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

This Weekend (Labor Day weekend)

Mini-service Weekend
Not a huge event, but we do need some volunteers
  • On Friday at 5:30 Working on Bob's Wood's trails. Depending on how many show up, work will include mowing, chain sawing, and sign painting.   
  • Saturday -taking down an old ramp and maybe doing some painting (depending on how many show up and weather)
  • Sunday we will be going over to Randolph to work on a wheelchair ramp.  Leave 10:30 from Murphy, return about 6 each day.  (yes you can drive if you want to come back early) 
ok, I confess I am in a miserable mood.  The only way I know how to help lift myself out of the duldrums is to work harder, So while we had planned on working one day this weekend anyways, we might as well add two more since the work needs to be done and I will be there anyways, AND  would love to have some company!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bills' George Wilson passionate about community service -

Bills' George Wilson passionate about community service -
"His newly established George Wilson S.A.F.E.T.Y. Foundation (Saving Adolescents from Everyday Trials of Youth) is a commitment of time, money and selflessness.

'Community service is a passion I have,' he says.

His timing could not be better.

A study released this month by the Schott Foundation for Public Education re-emphasized the glaring need for more intervention nationwide on behalf of African-American males, even as economic resources for public schools shrivel.

Worse for Buffalonians, only three school districts in the nation (Cleveland, Detroit and Dade County, Florida) posted lower results for African-American males than the city's 25% public high school graduation rate."

Too bad he works weekends. Maybe can get him out for International Service Day (March 26, 2011).

Sunday, August 29, 2010

THANKS A MILLION! - Featured Story -

THANKS A MILLION! - Featured Story -
"Students from St. Bonaventure College in New York state spent their spring break in South Mississippi in March 2006 volunteering their time by renovating a house on Lee Street in Biloxi. The Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service estimates that almost one million volunteers have been to the state since the storm.

- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

St. Bonaventure University freshmen to lend a hand to area agencies during Aug. 28 Day of Service

St. Bonaventure University freshmen to lend a hand to area agencies during Aug. 28 Day of Service:
"SBU’s class of 2014 will be introduced to the Olean-area community during an Aug. 28 Day of Service. The students’ 1,000 helping hands will be installing steps at the house of a World War II veteran, painting at Cattaraugus Community Action, washing cars for a Haiti fundraiser and cleaning a youth center. Other community service sites include Mt. Irenaeus, Pfeiffer Nature Center, Genesis House, SPCA in Cattaraugus County, Canticle Farm and the Allegheny River Valley Trail.

“We will be sending students off campus as well as assigning some students to engage in service right on campus,” said Abby Cohen, assistant director of St. Bonaventure’s First-Year Experience program, which is collaborating with the campus’s Center for Community Engagement and BonaResponds for the project.

- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Saturday, August 21, 2010

From the BonaResponds Newsletter

From The late Summer BonaResponds Newsletter:

On August 28th, as part of Welcome Days various service groups (The Warming House, Center for Community Engagement, BonaBuddies, and others on the St. Bonaventure Campus)  will be working in the local community to make a difference. It is a great opportunity to see what college is like while meeting new friends in a safe, fun environment. But more importantly it is a chance to make the world just a bit better.

We need volunteers and drivers.  Even if you can only drive for a couple of hours (all local), we'd really appreciate it. 

This year will almost assuredly be the largest ever with a high degree of participation expected (400 volunteers for some part of the day would not be surprising.).

We currently have about twenty jobs lined up in the Olean/Allegany area. That part is similar to most of our service weekends.

How can you help? We'd LOVE to have you volunteer. Rarely in life is does such a golden opportunity to be a role model and make a positive difference present itself. Not only can you help the local community by painting, cleaning, etc, but just by coming out you are setting an example for new students and showing that helping others is what we do at St. Bonaventure.

For more information and to sign up see Welcome Day posts on our blog.

Why BonaResponds is...

I confess that sometimes I get so fed up with administrative and managerial things associated with BonaResponds, the marketing to get volunteers, and the constant emails and (much worse) meetings dealing with SBU politics, policies, and who knows what else, that I am tempted to forget why we do all of it and to think of it as a chore.

Then I get an email like the following which I received less than an hour ago:

3 weeks ago, there was a wind storm here in the trailer court that our trailer is located in. A big branch broke off the tree and fell on our back room, the damage was extensive. I just went on disability from work with a lung disease. My girlfriend only works 10 hours a week at an elementary school during school season.

I went to the Red Cross last Friday and asked them if there was anything that they could do. They gave me your e-mail address, so I write you now. We have go out of town for 1 week, due a terminally ill cancer family member. I am not sure if you are able to help us, but if you can it would be greatly appreciated. If not, I do understand. Thanks for taking the time to read this."

I just spoke with him.  He literally has a hole in his trailer.  The family lives less than a mile from SBU.  It has been almost a month since the storm.  They can not help themselves and have fallen through the cracks.

Of course we are going to help.  I am not sure how yet, but when I said I would stop by, he was VERY relieved. 
I know sometimes we try to do too much and have too many events going on.  I know some of you are worried about money issues (will we have enough?), about whether enough volunteers will show up, etc.  or whatever else is the issue today, and they are all very valid concerns, but I personally (not from BonaResponds, but from me) want to remind you all why BonaResponds is around and not to worry too much about petty side issues that take valuable time.

If we stay true to the idea of helping others (whether near or far), BonaResponds will be fine.   And if we have 1 volunteer or 1000 volunteers we can and do make a difference. 

So thank you.  You are the volunteers and the leaders of.  Thank you for letting me say "Yes, we can help you" when asked.

Thank you!!!

Every donation is deeply cherished and helps us do what we do, but I particularly want to single out one very generous donation from Persevere Volunteers and the Driscolls that allowed us to buy a used van.

It is a 2000 GMC Savana Extended Van that will fit our needs perfectly.  It has a trailer hitch and a ladder rack on it that will allow us to respond more conveniently both near and far. 

We are still looking for a small trailer for it, so if you know of one that is cheap or would like to donate one to us, please let Jim know.

To read the entire newsletter (and see the pictures)  click here!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Villa Maria is in, How about you!?

From VillaVolunteers:

Hello all!!
On Saturday, September 11, we will be working with BonaResponds at the Food For Haiti Now Food Packaging Day. On that day, we will be packing 100,000 meals that will be shipped to Haiti. WE NEED VOLUNTEERS!!!

We will be getting a bus to transport volunteers from Villa to St. Bonaventure University. Times are not definite yet, but early planning looks like leaving Villa at 9:30am and returning approximately 6:00 pm.

For current Villa students, faculty, staff- there will be a sign up sheet posted outside Campus Ministry next week. For anyone else, just email me at if you can join us.

Watch for more messages and information about this and other Villa Volunteers projects!!!

September 11th Food Packing Day Information

On Saturday September 11th we will be hosting a large food packing event on the campus of St. Bonaventure.  It is open to any volunteer.

 We will be having 4 shifts of about 100 people each on the floor of the Reilly Center on the campus of St. Bonaventure University.   It will be fun with music playing, you and your friends (both new and old) working for a great cause.
The shifts are at 9, 11:30, 2:00, and 4:30 and include a short orientation.
here are a few starting points:

FoodForHaitiNow is a group of schools, clubs, and church  groups that have come together to help.  Led by BonaResponds and Villa Volunteers, the group has had numerous fund raisers and collections since the January earthquake. 

The basic idea of the day is that volunteers will be taking giant bales of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables, and flavoring that can weigh up to 2000 pounds each, and processing them into smaller bags that can be used.

The work is not hard (volunteers can be as young as Kindergarten with an accompanying adult).  We also need photographers!

On the FoodforHairtiNow website you can sign up for shifts and see videos of past food packing events that FeedMyStarvingChildren have put on which will allow you to get a better idea of what volunteers will be doing.

You can also find more information about Feed My Starving Children and the food on their website.

 How can you help?

  1. Volunteer!  We need about 400 volunteers.  This is going to be no small feat.  We'd love to have your class, club, etc get involved.  The shifts are short (you can be done by 11:00!) and fun.  
  2. Donate.  We are still short of our goal.  The food itself will cost over $17,000 plus we have to rent tables, forklifts, etc.  So we are still in need of more funds.  
  3. Lend us a forklift or sound system.
  4. Tell others.  Word of mouth advertising is the best kind of promotion there is!  So tell a friend, tell your pastor, your family, tweet it, blog it, hang flyers,  share it on Facebook, or just scream it at the top of your lungs (ok, people may look at you funny on the last one, but it is worth it ;) )

  1. Where?  We will be working on the floor of the Reilly Center (the large circled building on the map below).

         2. Who?  Anyone over the age of kindergarten can volunteer. if they are accompanied by an adult.
·                 Kindergarten – 3rd grade: 1 student to 1 adult
·                 3-6 grade: 3 students to 1 adult
·                 7-9 grade: 4 students to 1 adult
·              10-12 grade: 5 students to 1 adult

3. When is it?

      Saturday September 11, 2010

4.  When and how long are the shifts?

        9-11, 11:30-1:30, 2:00 -4:00,  4:30 to 7:00

We will also need volunteers to set up on the Friday before and to then take down and clean up  after the event!
        5. Can you volunteer for more than one shift?

              In fact we will be needing leaders to do just that so that there is continuity throughout the day.

       6.  Can I get my (Class, Club, Team, Business) involved?

YES!!  Absolutely.  It will be more fun in fact if you do, and it is a great way to build team cohesion.

It is also a GREAT way for students to step outside of Western NY/Northwestern PA and see that their actions can help others all around the world.

If you are a teacher and want more information, do not hesitate to ask.

       7. If I bring my class, can we park a bus on campus?

             Yes!  We already discussed this with campus officials. 

       8.  If we want to volunteer for multiple shifts will there be any food for us to eat?

Sure.  We can have simple sandwiches and some fruit etc for you.  (if any pizza place etc wants to donate, just let us know!)

        9.  Is it too late to donate to this?

Absolutely NOT.  We are still short several thousand dollars.  In the event that we do not reach the necessary amount, BonaResponds will have to make a donation which will could impact future work that we do.  So we really do not want to do tat.  We will be having some fundraisers in advance (August 28th at the Living Waters Church on West State St being the next) but money is going to be tight.

You can donate by sending a check to BonaResponds, PO Box BY, St. Bonaventure NY 14778 (please include a note in the envelope that you want the money to go to this) or you can donate online through the FeedmyStarvingChildren Website,

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What BonaResponds Board members are talking about

Earlier this week I sent a summer report to the BonaResponds Advisory Board. In it I laid out what we have been doing as well as what we have planned for the coming school year.

The report set off a plethora of calls and follow-up emails on various topics. I thought you, the volunteers, might like to see some of the topics.

  1. Van-- A couple of board members suggested we get a "better" van than we planned. One suggested using our recent donation as seed money for a nicer van. In the end it was decided that since we use the van in a very hard manner (mud, chain saws, tools, lumber, etc) and the vast majority of our events are reasonably local (within 100 miles), we would be better off getting a cheaper, older, van.
  2. Shipping to Haiti--this is still a concern. We THINK we have it solved, but was reminded of the difficulty of getting things through customs.
  3. Fund raising. A few were worried (as I am) that we still are short many thousands of dollars on our fund raising to feed 100,000 people in Haiti. (See We hope the August 28th Car wash and Clothing Sale makes a big impact. Other ideas are being accepted. So if you have any ideas, let us know!
  4. Welcome Days (August 28th) and our Fall Service Weekend (Sept 10-12) were discussed. These will be two of the largest events we have ever run. Concern over whether 400 volunteers would turn out. I said yes. So PLEASE volunteer!
  5. Several board members expressed concern with low participation of faculty and staff on campus. We have agreed to try to get this up but I confess I am not sure what else to do. Students, tell your teachers how fun it it and invite them out!
  6. A more prompt payment system is needed. Hopefully the new administrative assistant that we will have a few hours access to each week will help in this regard. Too many checks are not getting paid on time and we do not have current financial data as we should.
  7. Drinking was again addressed by several of the board members. We all think this is a big problem. All too often people (when sober and rational) sign up to come volunteer but then fail to show up after a night of drinking. We all agreed this is a big risk for BonaResponds. When you can not depend on people showing up, it makes planning very difficult. Unlike on a post disaster trip, we cannot just "send the person home." We are VERY open to any and all ideas on this one. We did think that more faculty and community participation in these events would give the students better role models and show them that "Drinking" does not mean "getting plastered".
  8. A couple of board members want to start a conference call every couple of months to better keep in touch. A meeting is probably too expensive as we have board members spread all over the world.
  9. The one thing that every board member did stress was what a great job the volunteers are doing. They are very proud of the work you all do be it locally, nationally, or internationally! Many of them said they missed you and to say hi to everyone!

BonaResponds needs drivers and role models for August 28th

BonaResponds meets Mayor Mike Bona_Responds via FlickrAs part of Welcome Days BonaResponds, the First Year Experience, and the Center for Community Engagement are putting on a the annual service day for incoming students. It is a great opportunity for them to meet others while doing good deeds in the local community.

This year will almost assuredly be the largest ever with a high degree of participation expected (400 volunteers for some part of the day would not be surprising.).

We currently have about twenty jobs lined up in the Olean/Allegany area. That part is similar to most of our service weekends. What makes this one extra important is that the incoming students do not have patterns learned yet and thereby are more impressionable. You can make a good first impression for them!

How can you help? We'd LOVE to have you volunteer. Rarely in life is does such a golden opportunity to be a role model and make a positive difference present itself. Not only can you help the local community by painting, cleaning, etc, but just by coming out you are setting an example for new students that helping others is what we do at St. Bonaventure.

Additionally, since it will be the first real volunteer day for many of the students, they need leaders to help show how to act, paint, etc. You really will make a lasting impact on the students if you come out, one that could change people's lives not only for a day, but for their entire life.

But even if you do not know how to paint etc, we can still really use your help. We are very short on drivers! Or bake brownies/cookies, or even peanut butter sandwiches for the volunteers (a great recipe for PB sandwiches: put peanut butter and jelly on bread, serve).

As you can imagine moving 400 volunteers to about 20 different jobs can be a logistical challenge. It is made worse since most of other students (upper class) will be busy moving in and not available to drive. So we really need drivers. If you are over 21 and have a clean driving record, please contact Abby Cohen ( to help arrange get SBU approval to drive.

Thank you very much. Remember you really can be the difference in someone's college experience and set them on the right path for years to come, all while helping in the local community. What more can you ask for?

No matter who you are, you are a role model and Saturday August 28th is a day when the new students will be watching and learning. Please come out and help.
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Dalia Lama: Secular Approach to Compassion

YouTube - Secular Approach to Compassion - The Dalai Lama:

Well said! The first 1:04 is VERY worth watching! If you can't watch it essentially he says that by being compassionate, the volunteer is also getting something.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Rebuilding homes, rebuilding lives - The Buffalo News

Rebuilding homes, rebuilding lives - The Buffalo News:
"It has been one year since torrential rains led to flash flooding that ripped through communities along Cattaraugus Creek in southern Erie and northern Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.

The National Guard troops and firefighters are gone, the Red Cross centers have closed and the mud and debris are cleared from homes and roads. But the storm's imprint remains.

'Everybody uses the flood as a reference now. There's stuff before the flood and stuff after the flood,' said Fred Johnson, director of Love Inc...

Here is a photo set of our adventures after the storm and here are all the blog entries tagged for Gowanda
which proved remarkably interesting to look back at and remember.

7 months after the earthquake and the pain and suffering continue

Delmas 60
Delmas 60,
originally uploaded by melindayiti.
Yes it is 7 months after the quake.

Yes Haiti's government, infrastructure, and custom's office are all nightmares to deal with.

Yes there are plenty of dangers.

And Yes, undoubtedly the Haitian people need to be freed from the NGOs that fight amongst themselves, hoard resources, and may have a vested interest in keeping the people poor and in need.

But fours yeses do not equal a single Know: as in we know they need help and to say no would be and is wrong.   As pictures like these from Melidayiti and stories like the one from Mark Schuller  remind us all to not forget Haiti and why I believe it should remain BonaResponds' top priority for the upcoming semester.

From the Schuller piece:
"For example, in Bobin, a camp where 2775 people live, in a ravine outside of Petion-Ville, there is only one latrine. Words don't do justice to the odor. Some residents prefer to use plastic bags. In addition, there is no access to treated drinking water. A single PVC pipe that had cracked offers some people a couple of buckets whenever the government turns on the tap for paying clients. Many people use the rainwater in the trash-filled ravine. Residents mentioned that NGOs had talked about installing a water system but up to now, almost seven months after the earthquake, it's still not here"
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On the 65th anniversary of the Bombing of Hiroshima

Cover of "The Last Train from Hiroshima: ...
Recently the world marked the  65th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.  Coincidentally I had just finished ristening to "The Last Train from Hiroshima" by Charles Pellegrino.

Yes, I know.  There is controversy about it and some of the "facts" in the book and that the movie that was to be made based on the book may be canceled and the publisher as ceased publication of the 'non fiction" book.  And the author may or may not have a PHD.  All of that is quite aside from the book.  And whether is is "fiction" or "non-fiction" is a fairly immaterial to me.  I enjoyed the book and learned a great deal from it.

( I would encourage you to read Pellegrino's side of things before jumping to too many conclusions on the book.)

The book describes in detail (in some cases millisecond by millisecond) the time after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  It tells of the firestorms, the destruction, and the deaths.  The main reason (besides historical curiosity) that I bought the books was to see how BonaResponds can help after disasters.  And sure enough there are many many similarities: 

  1. The survivors feel simultaneously both lucky and cursed. 
  2. There are amazing stories of survival and harrowing stories of death and injury which appear to largely random in both cases.
  3. Survivors often feel totally lost and forgotten and NGOs and Governments get blamed for a lack of swift response with food or water.  
  4. The post traumatic stress can be as bad as the disaster itself breaking up families, leading to suicides, and untold other problems.   
  5. Rumors spread, while important (and sometimes life saving) information fails to filter up the chain of command. 
  6. How those going to help are often told not to go as it is too dangerous (ironically in the book the person left Nagasaki to go to Hiroshima and thus missed the bombing there).
  7. How the survivors are often seen as to blame (Including one scene that was eerily reminiscent to New Orleans residents not being able to cross bridges into Gretna after Katrina)

But what struck me as much as these stories, were the stories of how some of the survivors used the disaster as a life changing event who overcame their problems and went on to bigger and better things.  Most famous among these are the so-called peace advocates.

While not speaking of war or peace here, their message is so strong that it deserves to be heard by all.  And since the book is now out of publication.   Each of which is as meaningful to a BonaResponds volunteer now as they were to St. Francis eight centuries ago,  Jesus twenty centuries ago, or to our ancestors thousands and thousands of years ago:

In the months after the bombings, Dr. (Paul) Takashi Nagai went on to do much charity work and later speak on the need for peace.  Here from page 271,  where he was speaking about the site he established for survivors to come and get help (Incidentally I imagine his camp like the Rangers original camp in Pass Christian MS after Katrina).

"I have named this place Nyokodo because the ancient prophets-Budah and Jesus, Hille; and Mohammad--each near the ends of their human journeys, said essentially the same thing: "love others as you love yourself'"

Later on Page 298, Pellegrino writes about a young victim of the bombing who was suffering from various blood disorders brought about by the radiation of the bombs.   
 "For Sadako, the lesson became Omoiyari, which meant:' in your heart, always think of the other person before yourself."

This helping others is the BonaResponds' message.  Indeed it is the unviersal message.  Go make the world a better place.  It need not be after a disaster it can be an every day event.  It need not be a trip around the world, it can be a trip to the local grocery store for an sick or elderly neighbor.

You can do it alone, or with others.  But please do it.  There are people who need the help. And the great thing is, it will make you happier as well!  
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