Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Maria Hayes wrote the following on BonaResponds for one of her classes

Thanks Maria! This was submitted to one of her journalism classes but she is letting us post it too:

Maria Hayes

February 18, 2010

Members of the global community will band together for a day of volunteer work with BonaResponds at the helm as the organization holds its first international day of service on March 27th.

BonaResponds, a group dedicated to providing service to those in need, is asking people worldwide to help their neighborhood however they can. Service projects can range from helping a neighbor walk a dog to rebuilding a house.

“We’re asking anybody. We’re trying to get them to go out and either organize a volunteer activity or join an existing one,” senior physics major Steve Gearhart said. “It can be anywhere between helping someone shop for groceries or walk a dog, help build a house or go work in a soup kitchen. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. Just go help somebody.”

In addition to doing volunteer work, participants are encouraged to submit photos or video to http://bonaresponds.org to commemorate the occasion. There will be a toll free number available for contributors to record their experiences and share them with the rest of the BonaResponds network. The number will be posted to the Web site by March 20th, according to BonaResponds’ Web site. The submitted media will be complied into a video that will reflect and capture the spirit of volunteerism across the globe.

“It’s going to be like the North American Aerospace Defense tracking Santa around the world,” Mahar said. “It’s like that, but with tracking service all the way around the world.”

According to a map on BonaResponds’ Web site, volunteers are as far away as Chengdu, China or as close to home as Buffalo, N.Y. , and span across 10 countries.

“We’re asking people wherever they are to go volunteer. Just do something good for someone,” Jim Mahar, director of BonaResponds and associate professor of finance, said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re a Bonaventure alumni or don’t even know where Bonaventure is. Go get involved.”

Mahar anticipates hundreds of volunteers in the United States alone.

“We’re expecting at least 150 volunteers in Buffalo. Los Angeles is expecting 150 people to come volunteer that day,” Mahar said. “Charlotte will probably have 80 to 100 that day. It’s a pretty big thing.”

BonaResponds emerged in late 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, according to its Web site. The group’s original purpose was to help alleviate the destruction left by the storm. It quickly grew to become one of the largest collegiate service groups helping clean up the Gulf region.

Gearhart was part of a BonaResponds group that went to Pass Christian, M.S. in January 2007.

“We drove down in vans. When you drive into the Gulf Coast area, there isn’t a landmark or anything. There’s no houses, no buildings, nothing. You’re driving down to the edge of the ocean, which is prime beachfront property, and there’s nothing,” Gearthart said. “And all of a sudden, you just realize, ‘There’s a foundation. There’s another foundation.’ All of the places, all of the houses were gone.”

Instead of dissolving after helping hurricane victims, BonaResponds stayed together and became a permanent part of the Bonaventure campus community, allowing students, faculty and community members to apply the school’s Franciscan values to their daily lives.

“As cliché as it sounds, it [BonaResponds] made me a better person. I don't judge people as quickly as I used to,” sophomore marketing and journalism and mass communication major Emily Deragon said. “I used to look at someone and if they looked trashy think to myself, ‘Wow, they are probably working the system.’ Now I get to know the person because everyone has struggles.”

Anyone interested in learning more about BonaResponds should contact the organization on their Web site, http://bonaresponds.org.

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