Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Random comments on past few events/newletter bullet style

Catching up and getting ahead:
  1. Work in three cities in three days can be tiring! We were in Olean on Saturday, Buffalo on Sunday, and Randolph on Monday. Great job and big thanks to all the volunteers!  
  2. Pictures from Randolph, Olean, Buffalo, and Salamanca can be seen here.
  3. Painting a small house (Saturday AM) is much easier than scraping and painting a large house (Saturday PM).
  4. I am always amazed and encouraged by how thankful those receiving the help are.  Often way out of proportion for the physical work actually performed.  It reminds me/us that the most important thing we do is often just showing up and listening, showing people that someone cares.
  5. In Randolph one homeowner said his neighbor had been quoted a $3000 price to cut down three trees.  Wow.  Seems VERY high.
  6. There are many trees down in Randolph but the town was largely (although not completely) spared structural damage and injuries.  So everyone was feeling both lucky and unlucky.
  7. We are going back to Randolph on Friday (and maybe Thursday).  
  8. Working locally has its advantages: worked with a guy (Gino) on Saturday that knew my grandfather.  He was telling me about the 1942 flood in Olean.  A garage floated 4 blocks into my Grandfather's back yard.
  9. Work in Buffalo at Sal and Justin's house is coming along much faster than I expected.  The drywall we did being an exception.  We will be back working in Buffalo on Sunday.
  10. Pictures of past few weeks are available here.
  11. Made a new map of the trails we have cut around campus.  Get out and enjoy them! 
  12. Added dates for upcoming semester: Aug 28th--welcome days work day!, Sept 10-12 (which includes Sept 11 Haiti Packing day--see below), October 2-3 (Livestrong Day/Weekend), Oct 8-12 Fall Break trip, plus things virtually every other weekend too!
  13. We (along with SIFE) will soon announce a reading program whereby local schools will be able to give books away to children.  The impetus for this program was this NY Times article.  Read it and get involved!
  14. We will also be working with Washington West Elementary school students this year to show that volunteering can be empowering.  We'd love you to be involved!
  15. Quote of the week by a Randolph resident:  "I am so tired, I have not worked so hard in years, but I also don't remember feeling so good either."      
Now the begging section:
  1. We could really use a pickup truck and a SMALL trailer.  Anyone have an old one they want to donate?
  2. We also need a bigger storage space.  We asked SBU but was told that they will be soon renting out the place we had been hoping for.  So if anyone knows of a relatively large area somewhat close to SBU that we can use for storage, please let us know.
  3. Still about $6000 short in donations for the feed 100,000 meals in Haiti (FoodforHaitiNow) program.  We have reserved the date (Sept 11), and paid out about $6000 to begin getting the food, but still need money.  So if you would like to lead a fund raiser (or if you just want to donate), please let us know.
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originally uploaded by Bona_Responds.

Monday, July 26, 2010

BonaResponds is going to Randolph

Fast response, but we need your help...

Heading to Randolph NY  this afternoon to help cut trees etc after their tornado.

If you can at all come, we really need a hand. You can leave with us at 1:30 from SBU (Murphy).  We will have water and food, but come dressed to work (boots etc

Here is a video WIVB

from WIVB

and one from a   local resident

plus one

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Teens Who Volunteer Reap Academic Rewards - ABC News

Teens Who Volunteer Reap Academic Rewards - ABC News:
"More than one in four teens nationwide does some type of volunteer work, such as bringing hope to sick children, beauty to their own neighborhoods, and safety to the homes of seniors.

But the giving goes both ways. Research confirms that teens who learn early to be social, caring, and responsible perform better in school. Volunteering improves their chances of graduating at the top of their class, armed with critical leadership skills.

It also makes teens feel good about themselves...."

Thanks to St. Louis Volunteen for this link! (It was started by an incoming SBU student, who we hope becomes very active with BonaResponds!
- Sent using Google Toolbar"
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Fast Saturday Recap of storm

BonaResponds is monitoring the situation.  If you need help, please let us know. 

From Buffalo News:

"Damage in Mayville was extensive. The roof of Chautauqua Liquors and an attached business was torn off. Trees were down on several streets, and power and cable lines were down.
On Morris Street,... Homes on Valley Street also were damaged extensively. Traffic was routed away from Route 394, the main street in Mayville. Several side streets were clogged with limbs and downed power lines."

WIVB (channel 4 from Buffalo)

from WKBW

Friday, July 23, 2010

This weekend

On Saturday we will be teaming up with RebuildingTogether (formerly Christmas in April) in Olean to help paint up to 5 different homes in the Olean area. We have been given our own home to paint in the N. Olean/Homer Hill area. We also would like to continue our work on the home of the WW II veteran as well. The work day is a bit earlier than normal. It starts at 8 a.m.; meet at the Murphy Building. It would be a great day to come and make a difference in the Olean group!

On Sunday we will be working in Buffalo on the home of Sal and Justin. Justin is a 13-year-old boy with Down syndrome and is almost completely paralyzed and cannot get outside unless his dad (Sal) carries him. BonaResponds has teamed with Cricket Communications, WNY Make a Wish, and Buffalo Hospice, to remodel a house to allow him to get in and out the house.
We have been really short on volunteers. We will be leaving at Murphy at 10. (You can also meet us at the house at 11:30).  
Also, mark your calendars for a great event Sept. 11 that will feed 100,000 Haitians.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Let's help get Justin outside!

Major change of plans.  We are going to Buffalo Saturday and Sunday to help in any way we can (and in particular Drywalling).  We will leave SBU at 10AM both days.  The job is in South Buffalo on Milton St.

Some of the local coverage of the story:

From Channel 4 (WIVB):

Buffalo News Live: Video: Dozens of volunteers work to give Buffalo boy a better home on Milton Street:

'It's overwhelming,' Zirpola said this morning as he watched the volunteers from the porch of the vacant home.

It all started with Justin's Make-A-Wish request more than two years ago.

Justin, who was born with Down Syndrome and has had a series of debilitating complications since then, asked the organization to make over the room in his second-story apartment.

Justin suffers from uncontrolled seizures and spinal stenosis and spends most of his time in a hospital bed.

But at 85 pounds and growing, it is a struggle for Zirpola to carry his son outside. For six years, Zirpola said, Justin has been stuck inside except in emergency situations."

You can also see it from WKBW (Channel 7).

A more complete list of news sources is available at Make-A-Wish.

Yes we had another job planned for Sunday, but sometimes a job comes at you so important that your plans change. This is the case with this one.  Why?  The schedule they have set is so tight that I am afraid the house would not get done in time if they wait for us to clear our schedule.    We can paint in Olean at a later date next week but to get them in the house by next month, this looks like our only window.

BTW we heard of this story yesterday we got messages from several people in the area (thank you Allison and Gail especially)  about this story.  THANK YOU!  As a rule I miss almost every local story so we really depend on you all giving us a heads-up on jobs.

As as evidenced by the one day turn around, BonaResponds really does RESPOND! :)

Today we agreed to help in any way we can.  (and yes I realize it will mean some schedule juggling).

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Catching up with Steve Gearhart

As almost all of the BonaResponds volunteers have either gone away or been too busy to be doing things locally.  That said most of the leaders of BonaResponds have remained very busy.  For instance Phil traveled to Ohio with us and helped organize a Community Work day with Wegmans.  Emily traveled back to Olean and has participated with several volunteer events (dunk tank etc) in the Rochester area.   Rob helped organize a fund raiser for a ranch in the Buffalo area that allows challenged children to ride horses. 

But the student leader who has done the most is Steve.  I asked him to write up some of what he did, so without further adieu here you go:

I decided to make the most of my summer with no job and no summer classes to go down to Nashville, Tennessee to help out with the flood relief work.  As you probably know, Nashville got hit badly by a flood in early May.  I knew Hands on Disaster Response (HODR) was going down there but only for coordination efforts.  I contacted them and they got me hooked up with Nechama, a Jewish based disaster relief volunteer organization.  They eagerly accepted me and I booked a trip to head down there from June 10th – 30th.  I knew next to nothing about Nechama and was a little nervous heading down there alone after previous experiences with some religious groups that emphasize their religion more than their ability to help others.
                  Boy was I wrong.  Nechama was awesome.   We were put up in an office/house from a local United Methodist church called The Upper Room.  Along with Nechama there was another volunteer group there called ICNA, an Islamic volunteer organization.  They came and went, with the average group of three or four staying about three days.  Yea, Jews and Muslims living under the same roof owned by Christians.  If only the rest of the world could get along so well!
                  I quickly realized that there were several other groups who we would be working with most notably the Jewish Disaster Response Corps (JDRC - jewishdisasterresponsecorps.org) and two groups of AmeriCorps.  Apparently there had been about ten total groups of AmeriCorps working in Nashville; I only got to work with two of them.  I don’t know which group; one was NCCC only because I saw it on their shirts.  They were from Sacramento and there was the Fire Four team based out of Denver.  All the groups were really good to work with.
                  The work was consistent with regular flood relief work.  Gut houses, remove debris, sanitize.  The only thing that changed was what had to be gutted or removed.  Nechama had two trailers full of any tool you possibly might need; including two Big Bertha crowbars so I was happy. 
We were removing the duct work in a crawlspace under a house one day.  We were almost done and clearing out the tarps that a lot of the houses had under their houses.  We were taking it out when we realized just what all those little holes in the tarp were from.  Snakes.  Luckily I never saw one, but someone had a scare with a baby one and never went underneath a house for the rest of the time he was there.  Lucky again, one of the teams of AmeriCorps people had a couple members who enjoyed going under; I have to admit it was cooler down there so it’s not totally crazy to crawl around with snakes.
             It was really hot (high 90s with high humidity, everyday) but I guess that was abnormal.  I got down there during CMA fest so that was very cool to see.  I didn’t go out much at all.  Without a car it was hard to meet up with the other teams that were over a 20 minute drive away (and AmeriCorps cars need to be grounded at midnight).  I went out enough to enjoy the city and there were plenty of bars around to keep up with the World Cup on our day off (Saturday).  Another plus for being with a Jewish group is that we had access to a JCC for free, a Jewish Community Center.  Basically it was a YMCA and we went to the pool a couple times after a hard/hot day of work. 
                  All in all it was a great trip.  Got lots of work done, met some great people, and made some new connections.  The RCC coordination thing that HODR setup worked spectacularly, Vanderbilt has a beautiful campus, and people down there were generally friendlier than elsewhere I’ve been.  I’d go down there again; just hopefully it won’t be for a disaster next time."

BonaResponds helps locally and internationally

American infantrymen of the 290th Regiment fig...Image via Wikipedia
I just sent the following to the SBU Notice-Board.  We'd love more volunteers, so if you can lend a hand it would be very much appreciated!

BonaResponds helps locally

On each of the next two weekends BonaResponds will be having workdays locally.

This Sunday (July 18th) we will be working at the home of a local World War II combat veteran (he was in the Ardennes Forest during the battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944-1945).  We have agreed to help paint and fix up around his house.  We will be working from 11:30 to 3:30.  Depending on how far we get, work will include scraping, maybe priming, puttying windows, and more.  This is a great job and a great way to thank a Veteran who fought to help save the world from Hitler. 

Then Next Saturday (July 24th) we will have another work day.  As part of this year's RebuildingTogether project (formerly Christmas in April), we will be helping them paint four houses on the same day.  BonaResponds has been given (by Charlie who has volunteered with us locally as well as on two Gulf Coast Trips) our own house to paint. The house (which is quite small) is that of an elderly couple who have had some financial difficulties.
IF we get done early, we plan on going back to work on the WW II Veteran's house after.

BonaResponds Helps Internationally
Our first large shipment (other than what JustRespond volunteers took with them in May) of school supplies will be shipped soon.  We want them to be there when school starts!  We have several hundred notebooks, pens, pencils, and crayons, but would love more.  As many of you know, we have adopted several Haitian Schools in and around Leogane.  Both the Boys School (about 300 students) and the Girls School (St. Rose de Lima--almost 700 students) were totally destroyed by the Earthquake and now hold classes in UN supplied tents.  On the May JustRespond trip we met with them (I even tried to teach two classes--Math and English) and both the teachers and the the "principals" (they called themselves Headmaster and Headmastress) said that school supplies (and a computer to help run the schools) are their biggest needs (other than new buildings!). 

So please help.  You can drop off notebooks, pencils, crayons, calculators (solar is best), used computers, and backpacks at either my office (231 Murphy--leave with Jen Spencer as I am rarely there) or at the Allegany Park and Shop.  We hope to ship soon, so please drop off as your earliest convenience.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tales from New Orleans

Hard to believe it is almost 5 years ago!

FT.com / Arts - Tales from New Orleans:
"Katrina, which left more than 1m in the Gulf region displaced and 70 per cent of homes in New Orleans damaged, required an unprecedented urban recovery project in the US. For this reason, historians have compared it to the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, which left 85 per cent of the Portuguese capital in ruins. The aftermath of Katrina is reminiscent of the 18th-century earthquake in other ways. After 1755, contemporary philosophers and writers sought to respond to and make sense of the disaster. Rousseau called for mankind to return to a more natural way of living – for people to take care of the small patch of earth over which they had control; as did Voltaire, if more satirically, in Candide.

Similarly, in the past five years, Hurricane Katrina has spawned an array of artistic responses – from home-grown community storytelling programmes to blockbuster films. Meanwhile, so-called “Katrina Literature” has become its own genre – so popular that the “Katrina memoir” has become almost a cliché.

- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Volunteer and Change the World

Here are pictures of some of the things BonaResponds has been doing this summer! From Salamanca, Buffalo, Ohio, Olean, and Allegany.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Ray Suarez: Returning to the Scene of the Quake in Haiti | The Rundown News Blog | PBS NewsHour | PBS

Ray Suarez: Returning to the Scene of the Quake in Haiti | The Rundown News Blog | PBS NewsHour | PBS:
"At the six-month mark, we thought it would be important to show you what's working, and what's not, and give you a glimpse into the lives of people who are working to put together what was already a deeply dysfunctional country, and make it even better than before the earth began to shake."