Friday, April 30, 2010

Olean Theater Workshop Variety Show: Make Joyful Noise

The Olean Theater Workshop proudly presents “Make a Joyful Noise”, a benefit to help feed the children of Haiti, at The Washington Street Theatre located at corner of Sixth and Washington Streets in Olean, NY. There will be three performances, Friday April 30 at 7:00 PM, Saturday, May 1 at 2:00 PM and Sunday, May 2 at at 7:00 PM.

Hear 29 local youths raise their voices in songs from musicals and movies to help raise awareness and funds for Haiti. The two act presentation will feature twenty five thrilling Broadway show tunes and favorite old time hits.

All proceeds will be donated to” Food for Haiti Now” through BonaResponds. It cost 17 cents to send a meal to Haiti. Therefore, the suggested donation for t the benefit show will be $5 which will send approximately 30 meals to Haiti. The goal for the benefit is to raise $850 which will provide 5000 meals.

The local youths performing in the benefit are Becca Lasky, Miles Marvin, Kaitlin Harvey, Amber Kolodjeski, Kaitlyn Anastasia, Sarah Stephan, Karimah Rahman, Emily Putzke, Nicole Sova, Steve Ahl, Shawn Bihler, Chris Mosher, Michael Liu, Alexis Sova, Emily Smith, Madison Forrest, Kendall Ullman, Tyler Richmond, Nicholas Patrone, Natalie Sova, Mariah Moses, Jazlyn Knapp, Emma Dwailabee, Kaitlyn Patrone, Haley Putzke, Julia Rakus, Rajiv Thandla, Joe Reed, and Karalyn Anastasia. This project was directed by Mckenzie Forrest, and assisted by Laura Roblee, Adam Sorokes and Arden Avery ,all members of the Cattaraugus County Youth Bureau’s AmeriCorps program, in conjunction with the Olean Theater Workshop and the Liberty Partnership Program at Olean High School.

It is not often that a small donation can do so much. Only 17 cents pays for an entire meal, while $4.25 provides 25 meals, $8.50 provides 50 meals, $17 provides 100 meals, $34 provides 200 meals and $50 provides 294 meals. A donation of $100 provides 588 meals, or will feed one child for well over a year and a half.

For further information, please visit us on the web at or by phone at 716-373-SHOW (7469). If you can’t make the show please send donation to Olean Theater Workshop, Food For Haiti Now! 702 Washington Street, Olean, NY 14760. Make checks payable to BonaResponds.

Volunteers recruited to help in oil spill threat -

Volunteers recruited to help in oil spill threat -
"How can you help? A number of organizations are recruiting volunteers.

The Audubon Society, which is affiliated with the Louisiana Coastal Initiative, is making its Center for Birds of Prey in Florida available for bird cleansing and rehabilitation. Elsewhere, Audubon said it was gearing up to mobilize volunteers and provide assistance as the oil reaches land in Louisiana and elsewhere."
We will be watching the situation. Definitely not ruling out a summer trip to the Gulf Coast.

Our Crutches in Haiti? I think so!

As we get ready to send our next shipment of crutches and other supplies (remember we are also sending used computers--they will be fixed up, all memory swapped out etc, tents, school supplies, and soccer balls in addition to collecting money for food), Pete of CYC found this picture of what looks like some of the crutches we donated last time getting to Haiti.

"The Portlight Relief Team unloads crutches shipped from Portlight's warehouse in Atlanta to a staging area at University Quisqeya, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The relief team consists of ten Haitians being coordinated by Haitian-American Richard Lumarque, Portlight's on-site coordinator in Haiti. The relief team has been working full-time over the past week doing aid work."

Wow. What a find!

It is about 3/4 of the way down this Wunderblog site that does weather and other things.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Choosing to Stay, Fighting to Rebuild - The New York Times

Choosing to Stay, Fighting to Rebuild - The New York Times

Watch this video if you need a reminder for the purpose of all of the fund raisers etc we are doing for Haiti!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Great local service weekend

It was a really great three days of work for the spring 2010 BonaResponds service weekend!

Over 16 jobs were accomplished with over 120 bags of garbage picked up, a tile floor finished, dry wall for two rooms and a long hall way, plus much much more done.

Turnout, especially of SBU students, was down. It seems that we were competing with "house crawl" and when anyone comes between SBU students and alcohol it is very unfortunate, but the alcohol all too often wins.

But it was their loss. The weekend was great. The volunteers that did turn out were great and hardworking.

Pictures and more will be posted soon but my computer is having major issues (battery is dead and it there is a short in the computer where it plugs in. So may be time to buy a new one. What do you think? Apple? If so I will buy from so BonaResponds gets 1% of purchase price!

Friday, April 23, 2010

VERY fast newsletter

Basically explains the weekend and asks for volunteers:

BonaResponds newsletter

Haiti earthquake toll revised UPWARDS :(

At least 30,000 people, maybe 80,000.

More than all the people who live in Olean and SBU area. And I had not seen this in news at all. How can that be?

From the Telegraph

"Haiti's devastating January earthquake killed between 250,000 and 300,000
people, the head of the United Nations mission in the country has said, at least
30,000 more than previously thought."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This week! BonaResponds Locally and for Haiti

So many things going on this

This week will be a great opportunity to help locally and to help in Haiti. Get involved. You won't believe how fun it is, and how much good work you can do. Open to all. Come to one day or all. Your choice, but do come!

Thursday BonaResponds will be teaming up several on campus groups and clubs to have a Bon Fire and Camp out. Ok, we confess, the real reason for the camp out was originally for EarthDay and we really have not done that much work on it yet (we will!), but come on, it is way too good of an opportunity to not help Haiti at the same time! So given we are in teh midst of a Tent drive for Haiti, well, you can guess the rest.

But first the fun! and it will be a great deal on fun! Bon fire, smores, music, etc. And then to make it even better you can then donate your tent and we will ship it to Haiti with

The camp out will kick-off our annual Spring service weekend where we have over 20 jobs lined up all over the area from Bradford, Portville, Allegany, Olean, and Friendship. The jobs are good (Finishing a wheelchair ramp, painting for a woman (former SBU employee) with MS, helping hang drywall and paint for the new location of the Cornerstone Full Gospel Medical Loan Closet, the SPCA, helping a woman in Portville who was recently released after 6 weeks in the hospital, and more!).

The work begins on Friday when we will be teaming up with the Olean YMCA and the Olean Hiking club for various clean up jobs. Here are the rules: come with an open mind and good attitude. Come with the intent to help. Don't skip class to come. But do come!

Haiti Tent

for more information and to sign up (not required, but it REALLY helps us plan) see

Saturday, April 17, 2010

OTH Article on Pete from CYC

Great guy! Nice to see him get the front page today of the OTH!

Spinning Threads of Inspiration

"It’s the impact volunteering has on the teens, he said. To see the enthusiasm and determination some of them have for helping someone else out, even if they themselves are going through a rough time, is what he says the corps is all about."

President Clinton challenges students at the University of Miami to change world - Miami-Dade -

President Clinton challenges students at the University of Miami to change world - Miami-Dade -

"``The whole idea is to create global networks of people doing good,'' Clinton said. ``It's become increasingly clear that you don't have to be wealthy to do it. If you are committed to a cause, you can change the world.''
and later:
"Some of the students will get funding for their projects from the Walmart Foundation, and UM funded another 13 of its students' social-service ventures."

Read more:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Father Doino Awards honor esteemed individuals - News

Father Doino Awards honor esteemed individuals - News

"Paula Scraba, associate professor of physical education, presented the Donald L. Korben Community Service Award to junior Rob Ryer, a BonaResponds member who Scraba said "went beyond the call of duty" in contributing to the university community....

Emily Deragon received the Heather Lorh SGA Member of the Year. Maddeaux described Deragon as an ideal Bonaventure student because of her involvement in the housing committee, BonaResponds and other clubs."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Volunteerism Trumps Dancing, Video Games (and for Some, Sex!) - Yahoo! Finance

Volunteerism Trumps Dancing, Video Games (and for Some, Sex!) - Yahoo! Finance

Of course volunteering is fun!

"What surprised us most about our findings is the depth of enjoyment derived by Americans who give back. It's heartening and important to note that the report uncovers that volunteerism is perceived as 'fun' as opposed to a chore by the majority of people," says Kenetta Bailey, WE tv's Senior Vice President of Marketing. "We know from the more than 500 stories shared by volunteers on our website that women seem as committed as ever to making change a reality for those in need."" | How 'bout it?

From Nate's blog: | How 'bout it?:
"...this Saturday is the Carwash and clothing sale at the living waters church in Olean, Ny. Kudos to Rob and his crew for pulling together nearly 1000 articles of clothing to sell. Additionally, Brian and I will be selling books for a buck each. He's already got several boxes packed and I will get mine together this week. We'll be splitting the sales from the table 50/50 with BR.

On the 23-25, local service weekend takes place with a laundry list of sites and projects around the area. In full disclosure, one of the projects will be a wheelchair ramp for my aunt and uncle, both in their 60s who have been dealt one bad hand after another regarding their health. Following my uncle's recent amputation, the ramp will take a bit of the burden off of them having to worry about how to pay for construction and how to get him home and comfortable to begin his recovery... Also that weekend is the 'tent out' / sleep over in the swamp to raise money for FoodforHaitNow. Should be an interesting event, assuming people show up.

Personally, I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things, as it feels like we've had some down time lately. Funny that two months ago, 'down time' was the norm for me, but now it just doesn't feel right.."

Read the rest to see his meal equivalent translation! Good stuff!!!

Notice Board Announcement for Thurs

BonaResponds This weekend and Next!

So many good things, so little time.

1. This Saturday (weather pending) BonaResponds will team up with the Living Waters Church with a car Wash and Garage Sale (mainly a $2 clothing sale--Over 1000 items of clothes with most of it donated from local schools and even SBU students so much of it is in good shape). Saturday 10-4 (rain date Sunday 12-4) If the weather is too bad, on Saturday we will go to Bradford and help build a wheelchair ramp for a man who recently lost his leg in a work accident.

2. This next two weeks signals a transition for BonaResponds. Our emphasis will move from collecting walkers and crutches) to collecting tents, and school supplies/computers. As many of you know BonaResponds has adopted an orphanage! Ok, so the word adopts is too strong, really what we are doing is supplying them with school supplies (notebooks, pencils, pens, crayons, backbacks). This is a tremendous opportunity to help. The notebooks do not need to be new (but we as that there be a substantial amount of unused paper!).

3. New this week! We are working with various groups (most notably Robert Obas and the New Haiti Project) to collect, repair, and ship new and used computers to schools, Churches, and orphanages i n Haiti. this has the potential to make a HUGE impact to the people of Haiti for a long time. The computers must have processor speed of AT LEAST 1.4ghz and can not be older than 5-6 years old. We will ship to Massachusetts where a group will clean, fix, and ship. These supplies can be dropped off at the garage sale/Car wash or email us at to arrange a pick-up.

4. And finally, next weekend is going to be awesome. From a camp-out (tent collection!!) and bonfire, to over 20 jobs in and around Olean/Bradford. We need Many volunteers!! Actually Many Many volunteers!! Seriously if you have thought about volunteering but for whatever reason have held off, next weekend is going to be a grand-finale for the semester....see for more info.

Or to sign up see:

Croix des Bouquets: More Malaria Reported - Haiti: Operational Biosurveillance

Croix des Bouquets: More Malaria Reported - Haiti: Operational Biosurveillance:
"On 8 APR, a credible source reported their clinic in Croix des Bouquets was seeing a large number of malaria cases. They have reported seeing as high a case load for April and will provide updates. They commented,

With three tent cities close by, standing water in the roads, a open canal running through and everybody sleeping in tents or outside it should not be a surprise that we have a problem."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

School supplies and used computers

As the recovery continues from Haiti's horrible earthquake, we are constantly reminded that this is going to be a long term effort and not a fast flash in the pan.

In that spirit our collection efforts are changing. While we are still working on collecting money for food and crutches/walkers (see FoodforHaitiNow), we recently announced the adoption of an Orphanage (we will be supplying school supplies, sporting equipment etc), and now we will be teaming up with RandyObas to send new and used computers/laptops to Haiti.

  • 1.4ghz and up, nothing more then 5 yrs old.
  • RAM and hard drive capacity is going to be upgrade anyway

More updates on this exciting new way to help will be coming soon. Stay tuned!

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

A thank you from Olean High

I really want to thank you for the NCLI day at Bonas for our students. They really enjoyed it and hopefully some who have not seen college as a future possibility for themselves will begin thinking about it.

Please pass on our thanks to everyone who made the day possible. The tour guides were great with the kids. Everyone who helped with the activities in the afternoon were enthusiastic and kept the kids involved. We started listing names to thank them all for the great work but were afraid we would overlook someone unintentionally. Please just give everyone our sincere thanks.

We would, however, like to especially thank ...Rob for his work in heading this up.... I know what a challenge it can be to organize an event like this and to be gracious and efficient in the execution.

Again, thank you all!!!!!

Lesley Patrone

Liberty Partnership

Olean Community Schools

Olean City School District

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Bona Alumna Runs with BonaResponds for Haiti

Bona Alumna Runs with BonaResponds for Haiti:
"St. Bonaventure University alumna Carrie Jackling knows the importance of community service. BonaResponds played a large role in her Bonaventure career and it continues today. Jackling is the leading force behind the Haiti Relief 5K Run & Walk, which will take place April 10 at 9:30 a.m. at Delaware Park in Buffalo.

Jackling partnered with BonaResponds to raise money for its Food For Haiti Now campaign. All the proceeds from the Run & Walk will be given to BonaResponds for the drive. Food For Haiti Now is a program that provides meals to the people of Haiti.

“A meal costs 17 cents through Food For Haiti Now,” Jackling said. “Our goal is to raise $17,000, which would mean 100,000 meals for the people of Haiti.”

Jackling wants to make sure that everyone understands that Haiti still needs help even after all the initial relief efforts after the earthquake."

Beverly Bell: The Business of Disaster: Where's the Haiti-Bound Money Going?

Beverly Bell: The Business of Disaster: Where's the Haiti-Bound Money Going?:
"...where are the billions in foreign aid money going?

Of the U.S. money, 40 cents on every dollar goes to the U.S. military, according to sources gathered from USAID and the U.N. and compiled by the Associated Press.[iii] Less than one cent goes to the Haitian government. U.S. government contracts, paid for by citizen's tax dollars, are being given out to private U.S. corporations for post-earthquake work including damage assessments, security guards, military 'mission support,' shipping of supplies, clean-up, construction, long-term planning, 'monitoring food security,' and much more."

From Notice Board

Given Anne and Laura's success in the Peace Corps, I figured we would pass this along from the SBU notice board.


Lucho Skandar will present "To Know the Peace Corps" in Walsh Auditorium on Wednesday, April 14, at 7 p.m. Mr. Skandar was a training coordinator for the Peace Corps for four years and then he served the Peace Corps as Project Country Director for 7 years in Bolivia.

The talk is sponsored by the International Studies Major. For more information contact Joel Horowitz, Coordinator and Professor of History, or 375-2243.

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Notice Board Announcement for Thurs

Rob in HaitiImage by FinanceProfessor via Flickr

BonaResponds and FoodForHaitiNow is committed to feeding 200,000 Haitians. This will require the help of many different events! This weekend we have two going on. A T-shirt sale plus a 5k race in Buffalo.

1. T-Shirt Sale to help feed 200,000!

The shirts will no doubt become a "Must-Have T-Shirt". And you can get one! How? Come to the Reilly Center on Thursday and Friday this week from 11-4 to get yourself what will be the must-have Bonaventure t-shirt of the semester. Jesus is in fact a Saint (Bonaventure) fan and you can be part of the action for a mere ten dollar donation. Shirts will also be available during the baseball games this weekend versus Fordham. Don’t miss out on the shirts people will be talking about for years to come!

2. There is also a 5K race in Buffalo's Delaware Park. Teaming with former BonaResponds leader Carrie Jackling, plus VillaVolunteers, Help Create Change, JustRespond, Daemen College, Allegany Central, Cuba-Rushford, and others, BonaResponds will be helping at the Relief Run for Haiti at Delaware Park. We need both runners ($15 for students) plus volunteers. There are a limited number of seats in our van available.

For more on the race please see:

3. All fundraising and no work makes us miserable, so on Sunday we plan on going to work in Machias. It will likely be the last time for graduating students to get to work with (uh play with?) the "boys". We will be mainly be doing landscape work and cleaning up around the outside. Time will be known soon. Follow us on Twitter for updates @BonaResponds. (

4. Next weekend there will be a major car wash and clothing sale/garage sale at the Living Waters Church (near Verizon on State Street). Money will be going to help FoodForHaitiNow and BonaResponds. We will need volunteers AND dirty cars! For info see and/or contact Rob Ryer for more info.

5. Remember our big annual Spring Service Weekend is the week BEFORE Spring Weekend (work first, play the next week). Mark your calendars!

Get involved. We guarantee you will not regret it! You will have a great time and make a big difference!

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Local Service Weekend letter

On Saturday April 23-25, 2010 BonaResponds will be holding a local service weekend. We will have volunteers working at multiple sites across the area. We generally get about 100+ volunteers that come out, break into teams and go out and volunteer in the community at various sites.

The volunteers will meet at 10:00 AM at the Murphy Auditorium on the west side of the St. Bonaventure Campus. From there we will break into smaller work groups that will spread out across the region where they will do everything from picking up trash, to making trails, to painting, to landscaping, and putting up drywall.

Many of the volunteers have experience from weeks in the Gulf Coast, in Gowanda, and in Atlanta after floods etc. However to some volunteers this will be their first experience with volunteering. While we believe that serving others can be an important contributor to their personal growth and happiness, it only happens if the volunteers get involved, so we do want to make it a good experience for all involved.

We are writing to ask two things:

  1. Would people from your group would like to be involved as volunteers? These local events work SO MUCH better when our volunteers work side by side with people from “town”. It means more to them, they can share stories, and more work gets done. So we’d love to have volunteers from your organization. Everyone can do something. From driving, to taking pictures, to serving food, to even explaining why it is important work etc.
  2. If your organization needs any help. While due to an uncertain number of volunteers (most just sign up the day of the event) and weather, we can not guarantee we will be able to help, in the VAST majority of cases we have been able to accomplish what has been asked. We would like it to be a “special” need. For instance, we are not really designed to do regular cleaning etc, but if you have a special project that will allow your organization to better serve the local community (paint, remodel, organization, big clean up, etc), we’d love to be involved.

For planning purposes (we need to know how many sites to have), the earlier we know the better we will be able to serve you.

We really can not stress enough that we’d love to work with your volunteers. If the past is any indicator, this works MUCH better as we provide energy and numbers while your volunteers can provide maturity, know-how, and even more importantly motivation. Knowing why something needs to be done, or even just that it makes a difference is really what gets more work done. For this reason, we are asking that at least one person from your organization be in attendance if you are asking for help.

Please email me at AND (spam filters have caused problems before so I like the redundancy of multiple email accounts). Or feel free to call me at 585.376.0231.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to working with you.

Jim Mahar


Monday, April 05, 2010

Brianna's reflection from Harlingen Texas

Brianna is 9 years old and helped delivery groceries to poor families in Harlingen Texas.

Here is her reflection (ok, her mom MIGHT have helped some ;) )

"I learned that helping people in need is really a good opportunity. And if you're small you can still really make a big difference for people in need. The best part of the day on Saturday was when we took the food to the families.

I would like to help more people in need in the future. Even if I see someone needing me to help carry their groceries or if someone's car breaks down, I can help them push it out of the way (which I did one time in the McDonald's parking lot with my sister!). Thank you for this opportunity."

Here are pictures of the work they did in Harlingen.

Thanks Kris, Wende, and Brianna!!

A short piece from Sean on his volunteering in Cambodia for International Service Day

International Service Day
March 27, 2010

As part of our International Service Day volunteer around the globe were asked to "help out" by doing something. Some went to local soup kitchens, others worked in Haiti, others painted, and much more. Here is a recount from Sean Lynch (one of the original leaders of BonaResponds right after Katrina). Sean has stayed active with us since his graduation. He is on our board of advisors, he has donated money, and even made a trip back to Olean to participate in a local service weekend. Here he tells of his work in Cambodia on the day:

"My time in Cambodia was spent in and around a city (large town) called Siem Reap. Here I visited a children's school in the floating villages of the Tonle Sap lake. The school was actually floating a few miles out from shore. The second place I visited was an orphanage housing 12 children, ranging from the ages of 4-17.

For the floating school I purchased books, pencils, pens markers, etc from local merchants for the children. As this indeed is a floating village -- common items are EXTREMELY expensive and hard to come by.

For the orphanage, this was my 3rd trip there. The kids were in real need for notebooks, textbooks, dictionaries (English and Khmer to English), history books (I included a history of American presidents book written in English and Khmer), pencils, markers, erasers, ruler, protractors, school bags, shoes, flip flops.... you name it. Basically like August school shopping for 12. The kids LOVED it, the bags were super fashionable (Mickey/Minnie mouse for girls and puma, Adidas for guys).

I spent time helping the children with their English, gave some lessons, gave them little tests, made them write for me. Was really wonderful, I love these kids. After this I took them out for food in a tourist restaurant, which is a big change from rice, rice, and more rice for them.

Then they finished by performing an Apsara dance for me, which is a traditional Khmer (Cambodian) dance for me. Wonderful.

As of now, the foundation houses 12 children, ranging from the ages of 4-17. The foundation is currently in the process of constructing a new orphanage that will house 26."

More pictures are available here.

Sunday, April 04, 2010


This is the orphanage's new website!

"While working midst the earthquake disaster, to bring help and hope in Haiti, volunteers found a local person who was running three orphanages. All of them had collapsed, leaving the surviving children without shelter, food or water...and more importantly, a family. We decided to help these vulnerable children and found available land to do so. We worked with the local community to clear it from junk and debris and established a camp out of tents."

Letters - Rebuilding Haiti - Getting It Right This Time -

Letters - Rebuilding Haiti - Getting It Right This Time -
"To succeed this time, things need to be fundamentally different. The new strategy for reconstruction of Haiti should aim at nothing less than changing the political economy of the country. Employment creation will require basic infrastructure and the reactivation of investment, production and exports. This will happen only if Haiti establishes an adequate policy and institutional framework, and if donors create a more effective and accountable aid system and open up their markets to Haitian exports."

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Tackling Haiti’s Institutional Deficit - Brookings Institution

Tackling Haiti’s Institutional Deficit - Brookings Institution:
"Rebuilding Haiti will require a protracted, costly, and well-coordinated effort from foreign governments, multilateral institutions and private capital....The international community seems to be tiptoeing around these issues because they pose awkward questions about limiting the powers of a sovereign state in the short run. Notwithstanding the usual platitudes about giving Haiti’s government a leadership role in the reconstruction process, it is highly doubtful that Haiti’s institutions have the ability to coordinate this effort without deep involvement by the international donors in pretty sensitive matters for the country.

Haiti needs institutions able to devise and execute simultaneously the projects required to rebuild what the earthquake took away and generate sustained growth. Those institutions need physical infrastructure and human capital. Both are hard to develop in the short run"

Friday, April 02, 2010

Larry's International Service Day Reflection

First a suggestion - Douglas Brinkley’s excellent book, The Great Deluge, Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, should be mandatory for everyone providing disaster relief services. It would also be interesting reading for anyone interested in the true story of relief efforts after the hurricane that hit the Gulf Coast in August of 2005. More about this later.

MARCH 27, 2010
Larry L. Orsini

I had International Service Day, March 27, 2010, marked on my calendar for a long time, but I decided to take a different approach as to what I would do to participate. In lieu of planning a service day, which is usual for me, this time I decided to kind of let the spirit of volunteerism take over.

Originally uploaded by FinanceProfessor.

In preparation for the day my wife, Bonnie, and I visited some of the areas that were most effected. In New Orleans’ lower ninth ward many houses still remain much as they were after the hurricane, but there has been amazing progress and many of the houses have been repaired. In the northeast section of the city, commonly referred to as New Orleans East (NOE) major sections have yet to be repaired and the word on the street is that many residents of these areas have left permanently. A woman living in an apartment near us owns a house in NOE. She is single and perhaps in her 50s. Using grant moneys she has had her home repaired and is trying to decide whether or not to move back. A major factor is that all of the people she used to know are gone and also with so many houses sitting apparently abandoned she questions its safety.

The situation with our neighbor seems to be fairly typical. An additional factor is that the city has decided to tear down entire neighborhoods and some who have repaired their houses may have to move again. I met a contractor who had contracted to tear down and remove 7000 houses and this was just one of many contractors.

We also visited the musician’s village and the housing area that is being constructed under the program promoted by Brad Pitt. One thing we have learned in relief work is that each person is important and the focus must be on helping people one person at a time. However, as worthy of praise and deserving of every complement that these two projects have received, they are tiny when viewed in the context of what remains to be done in the areas that surround them.

We then visited the Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian areas of Mississippi. These areas present an entirely different perspective on what has been accomplished. On the one hand the repairs are almost beyond belief, with an amazing new bridge going over St. Louis Bay and many new houses replacing those that were destroyed. On the other hand there are many areas where only concrete pads remain where houses stood prior to the storm. It should be remembered that this area suffered the eye of the hurricane and houses were not just damaged or flooded as they were in New Orleans. In Mississippi the hurricane took out virtually everything in its path, including the former St. Louis Bay Bridge.

I have a special note for all of those BonaRespond students, faculty and community volunteers who gave of themselves with such distinction by returning over and over again to help with relief efforts. Bonnie and I visited the spot where Randy’s Rangers had the camp for volunteers. For those unfamiliar with this, BonaResponds volunteers not only helped to gut and repair homes they also helped to construct a camp for future volunteers. They built a laundry, a tool building, laid piping for drainage and generally made it better for volunteers coming after them.

To all of the BonaResponders I have good and bad news. The bad news is that the camp is all gone and to see just bare ground and a few piles of debris where we once worked, laughed, froze and built was a sad emotional experience for Bonnie and me.

However, the great good news is that the camp is gone and is no longer needed. Yes there will be volunteers coming to this area for years, but the urgency of temporary housing for them has now passed.

And so with all of the above I was sure that some opportunity would just come along for me to volunteer for International Service Day. But the week before March 27th was suddenly here and I still didn’t know what I was going to do. I called Habitat for Humanity and was told that with all of the students on spring break they had all of the volunteers they needed.

It was at this point that divine intervention, serendipity, call it what you will stepped in. We are staying on Royal Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans and each day for the last week we noticed a young woman working by herself repairing some windows and doors on a building across the street. She had an old beat-up white van and wore a tee-shirt that said “Antoinette’s General Contracting and Repairs.”

Her story is an interesting one. She started working for Habitat for Humanity as a volunteer and then as an employee. While doing so she remodeled her apartment and her landlord upon seeing the quality of her work hired her to do repairs and remodeling. She lost her job when her employer moved and faced with no way to support herself she decided to start doing repairs and remodeling on her own. Antoinette turned out to be one of the most courageous persons that I ever met.

I offered to help her for a day if she could use me. She agreed to accept my offer, but not for few days as she had a job that would take a day or two before she could get back to working on the doors and windows, the job that I thought I would work on. I asked if I could help with the other job as I really wanted to work on the Saturday of International Service day. She stated emphatically that “nobody in their right mind” would want to work on the other job. Obviously this left an opening for me!

I told her about BonaResponds and how we always told those in charge to give us the jobs that nobody else would do. So, reluctantly she agreed to pick me up to go to work on Saturday morning.

We went to a “shotgun” house in the Faubourg Marigny area of New Orleans. For those that do not know of this type of house, it is a long, narrow, one story structure with a door at the front and back. It is called “shotgun” because it is said that one can shoot a gun through the front door and out the back without hitting anything in the house. This area of the Faubourg Marigny had not flooded in hurricane Katrina, but Antoinette had agreed to clean out under the house and then remove all of the insulation from the attic, so that it could be replaced with better insulation. She had already crawled under the house, cleaned out all of the debris and had started in the attic. Being more than fearful of snakes I was glad that I did not have to get under the house. I asked if she was afraid under there and she replied that it was the spiders that really scared her.

We put on contamination suits, masks and goggles and climbed up into the attic through a small hole in the bathroom ceiling.

And now back to Brinkley’s book. The author describes in vivid detail what the people in New Orleans endured for days while those in positions of authority acted with unbelievable incompetence. People died because those that should have known what to do passed the buck for days. I had heard all of these stories before, but when I was in that attic on Saturday I too finally “got it.”

The attic in this house, like thousands of other New Orleans homes of identical design, was sixteen to twenty feet across and probably fifty feet long. The peak is about four feet high, so it is impossible to stand up. There is no floor so one has to balance on the two inch wide floor joists. A step between the floor joists results in falling through the ceiling into the room below.

Saturday was a beautiful sunny day with the temperature at about 75 degrees.

Antoinette confessed to being somewhat claustrophobic. She said that she had to constantly focus on the fact that the walls were not actually closing in on her. She would pull up the old insulation and stepping on the floor joists she would bring it part way down the attic. I would then take it and stuff it down the hole into the bathroom below. At one point I filled up the bathroom and the hole was plugged so that I could not see it anymore. Antoinette was at the far end of the attic with the flashlight and I was in total darkness. It was at this point that I thought of those who had been trapped in their attics during the hurricane. Many could not break through their roofs to escape and those that did spent days there. Imagine being trapped in the attic not knowing if anyone will find you. I KNEW that I could get out. Day after day went by and many died because they just gave up hope. I KNEW that this would end in a few hours. The air was stifling and I had difficulty breathing. On the days after Katrina, the temperature was in the nineties. I KNEW that I could breathe as long as I did not panic. In addition, I KNEW that this was a good thing that we were doing and all was right in my world. Even with all of this knowledge, for just an instant I experience just a tiny bit of what the poor forgotten people of New Orleans must have felt. I cleared out the hole to the bathroom and we continued until the job was done.

This was not a typical volunteer day. Antoinette is not without a job, but she does not have health care as it is too expensive. If she gets hurt, it will be on her to pay for it. She needs to work very long hours and at least six days a week to make a living. But I thank God for having met her and having the opportunity to work with her just for this one day. On her business card it says, “You will still like me after the job is done.” I do and I will remember her courage and good humor every time I think of New Orleans.

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Announcing the adoption of an Orphanage

BonaResponds has decided to adopt the a Haitian Orphanage in Croix de Bouquets near

Here is some of the background on the orphanage from Kim who is our contact:

"Basically there is a man named Reginald who is the president of a non profit Haitian organization called GRODYSH. They were managing 4 orphanages in Haiti. When the earthquake happened, all the orphanages crumbled. Some of the children died and the rest were in the streets.

Reggie and his workers [searched] the area and found most of the missing children to bring them to his house. He is currently using his house and his land to house the children and keep them in a safe location and off the streets. They have found 116 of their children. He is planning to donate his house and turn it into an official orphanage.

They are also in the process of building more rooms and will need bunk beds, mattresses, and bedding. The house is too small to house all the children, but they have tents in his yard. He currently has builders and is working on building more rooms and a bigger kitchen and bathroom area for the children. He has set up an Applied Scholastics program at his house so the kids are now going to school. The ages range from 2-16."

The orphanage is located at 2 Impasse Jean, Route SOS, Santo 19, Croix de Bouquets
Port-au-Prince Haiti HT6310

So we are going to try and get school supplies (notebooks, pens, pencils, calculators, back packs, crayons) as well as mosquito netting, first aid supplies, shoes (NOT CLOTHES), a few soccer balls, and other games (wiffle ball, maybe frisbees, etc).

They also need a more permanent food supply, batteries, a more permanent power source (solar?) and much more, but this is at least a start.

These items can be dropped off at the Murphy Building (231 Murphy--ask for the secretary if door is closed) on the SBU campus, as well as the Allegany Park and Shop.

Military’s Haiti Mission Winds Down, But Soft-Power Lessons Linger | Danger Room |

Military’s Haiti Mission Winds Down, But Soft-Power Lessons Linger | Danger Room |
“Instead of the from the military perspective of commanding and controlling, our forte now has to be coordination and collaboration,” Trombitas said. “In order to get things done, because we are not the lead agency, we have to work with and through others.”"

Emergency Appeal: Haiti « Praecipio International

Emergency Appeal: Haiti « Praecipio International:
"Floodwaters trigger the overflow of pit latrines bringing raw sewage flow into the camps contaminating local water sources. Contact with raw sewage greatly increases the chance of exposure to waterborne pathogens that cause diarrheal disease. Prior to the January 12th earthquake, diarrheal disease was already a leading cause of illness and death for children in Haiti. Now, both children and adults living in temporary shelters with inadequate hygiene are facing a substantial increased risk for diarrheal disease due to the environmental conditions, which will only worsen as the rainy season unfolds in Haiti.

The medical infrastructure in Haiti consists mainly of volunteer and non-profit groups who are themselves transitional"

Just a reminder that Haiti is not out of trouble yet. Your help is still needed!