Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Back in October we worked on a trailer in Sayre. It was a really tough job for lots of reasons. We were under the trailer for 5 hours removing insulation and cleaning up around the area. But more than that it was a difficult job emotionally. The family had very little to start with and had had an incredible run of bad luck.
Months prior to the floods, the mother had been in a serious accident when she was hit by a truck while walking with her children. Thrown far by the impact, she broke her back and was left in bad shape. She did survive but was largely bed ridden and the family's time and resources, already very limited were pushed to the breaking point by medical costs, physical rehab, and refitting the trailer to make it more handicap accessible.
Then the flood came.
Several of the volunteers who worked at the house planned on doing something for the kids for Christmas, and while things did not go as planned, Chelsea and her family came through big time and collected money, donated money, shopped, and delivered gifts! :)
Here is a picture from the day:
"It was amazing, the parents were so incredibly thankful and the kids loved their presents. I ended up having $125 to spend on the family... We got little dress up clothes and things to make jewelery for the girls and the boy got a little indoor nerf basketball hoop set along with a nerf gun. Then we gave the parents some money. It was great "
In Caitlin's words:
"We weren't able to get a picture of the kids opening their gifts but the family was incredibly thankful for the gifts and the help"
Saturday, December 24, 2011
WOW! Watch this. It is amazing. Maybe my favorite "TED talk" ever. It sums up my view of why we help perfectly.
" Alberto Cairo's clinics in Afghanistan used to close down during active fighting. Now, they stay open. At TEDxRC2 (the RC stands for Red Cross/Red Crescent), Cairo tells the powerful story of why -- and how he found humanity and dignity in the midst of war."
To Alberto Cairo, I do not know you, but I wish I did. You are my new hero.
To every volunteer we have had, watch it. This, better than even Three Cups of Tea, encapsulates why we do what we do. From after disasters, to locally, all jobs are high priority to those affected. It doesn't need to be a category 5 hurricane, or a F5 tornado, a leaking roof can be nearly as bad to those affected.
And finally, to every volunteer who wonders why we do so many wheel chair ramps: this, to a microscopically small small degree, is why wheel chair ramps are needed: wheel chair ramps aren't just an inclined entrance to a house, they are a road to a better life. And when watching, pay particular attention to the reason the son can now go to school. How many "sons" might our ramps set free in a similar manner?
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Here is Bill's voice mail explaining what they did:
And a short slideshow of their day.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
Email in its entirety (except name)
I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you and congratulations for a job well done!!! let me explain.
As an alumni, I am proud to say I graduated with my 1st Masters degree from St. Bonaventure. Knowing I was born
and raised in Allegany, this makes me even more proud to know the university is involved and dedicated to the
community in a positive manner.
It was a while back now, during the last flooding that Allegany experienced. My brother lives on Union Street in
our family's homestead. It was always a wonderful place to live; however, the one challenge we always had was the
flooding of the Allegheny River. During the last flooding, my brother did get water, not only around the house, but
the basement, garage and almost into the house. He had just had a hip replacement and was unable to prepare for the
flooding as normal.
When the water receded, he had damage to some walls, the furnace, and much of the insulation. Being that I no longer
live in New York, I was unable to get there to help him out, but he said to me that everything was under control. I
asked him what he meant by this. He told me that several St. Bonaventure students were there and assisting him. These
students worked very hard and were dedicated to helping him out. They did a wonderful job.
I understand the university has formed an organization to assist the community in this manner.
Kudos to these students and all that they do!!!! Kudos to the St. Bonaventure as well!!!!
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
First we must apologize that the poem is pretty bad, but here is a recap of the year we had.
We helped vets and pets.
We helped schools with tools.
We helped other groups, and even send messages to our troops.
We helped after big disasters, and single family's setbacks.
We worked in the sun and on the run. In the cold, we were bold!
In Buffalo and Chicago, BR and others worked as one to get much done. From handicapped camps, to wheelchair ramps we simply did what was needed.
Wearing our brown duds, we cleaned up after several floods. We worked where people had lost their hope, but still had CitiHope!
And as if on a dare, we went to Sayre where the water had been deep so the garbage we did heap.
We built ramps, and ramps, and ramps. Truth be told, many of us got sick of ramps, but they were what was needed, so the call we all heeded.
Oh and PS, if you ever want to come volunteer with us, we'd love to have you along! (We are always looking for drivers! I wonder if we could get you and your sleigh approved?)
We've compiled a list of things that would help us to help others. If you could get us any of these items we would surely appreciate it and more importantly those we are helping would love it!
- Pens, pencils, calculators, crayons, notebooks, rulers, notebook computers, hand sanitizer, math or English books, small toys, deflated soccer balls.
- For The CJM primary school in Leogane Haiti-- 8 French-English Dictionaries (they cost less than $6 at Amazon), also two notebook computers (or more)
- For a school in Gonaives Haiti: musical instruments (used or new), sheet music, and a notebook computer.
- An education to someone in Haiti. HaitiScholarships has a waiting list of students who want to go to school but can not afford it. If you make a donation, a Haitian can go to school (HS pays up to 75% of their tuition) and you (or whoever you select) gets a certificate letting you know who is in school because of you (and with your permission) that student will send a thank you card too!)For about $1 a day you can literally change the life. Think about it! $1.
- Tools (gently used or new) for a vocational school in Leogane Haiti. They would like hammers, saws, tape measures, wire cutters, pipe cutters, a router, a drill, a plane, sandpaper, drill bits, or any other small tools. But really can use pretty much anything. Indeed they would LOVE some contractors to volunteer to teach for a few weeks. If any of your elves are available, let us know.
- School packs (pencils, crayons, calculators, pens, and notebooks) for students in Buffalo, Camden, and elsewhere whose teachers have identified as in need of supplies.
- Toys for a family in Sayre that we helped. The mother was in a severe accident and then they were flooded out. Very sad story.
- Grab bars (or money for grab bars) to install in homes of physically challenged in and around Western New York State. We have been installing them for the Dept. of Aging, but the cost is adding up fast. If anyone wants to donate for these, it would be excellent.
- Money to buy lumber for wheel chair ramps. It costs about $16 a foot for a ramp. For every inch of elevation change, it is one more foot. So this adds up. Many of those in need cannot afford it. Do we let them be home bound?
- A large sump pump (gas powered). We "lost" ours in Margaretville after their flooding. We have not needed it since (used small ones in Athens) but it is only a matter of time.
- A compressor to run nail guns. Each ramp has about 750+ nails. A nail gun would make us faster and allow us to help more people.
- A volunteer to work a few hours during the week. Of late we have Kevin and it is a HUGE help, but he will be leaving for South Korea soon. The volunteer would help scout jobs, make occasional trips to Buffalo, and to keep the storage facility organized.
- Christmas cards: we would love to deliver Christmas cards to local nursing homes and send them to the troops overseas. Anyone who wants to help you with this, can leave them off at the Allegany Park and Shop (or any of the other Park and Shops, but you might have to explain more there---tell them to send the cards to Allegany attn BonaResponds).
- More volunteers. We always can use more volunteers.
- as much as we hate to ask, money for travel is also often a need. Gas costs money. If you wanted to drop off money in our stocking, that would be ok too, but we'd really rather you come volunteer. Volunteers are more appreciated!
Oh and if you could tell everyone of our International Service Day (ISD) on March 31st that would be most excellent as well. We are asking people to go help others where ever they are. The jobs can be big or small. Some alumni groups are doing it, but volunteers do not need any tie to SBU. They just need a willingness to help and share their good deeds. It is going to be a great day! We already have volunteers in quite a few spots but we want thousands more! so spread the word when you spread your good cheer. (http://BonaResponds.org/isd.html)
Thank you Santa!
PS when you are doing your Christmas shopping, it would be really cool if you did it though Good Shop. List BonaResponds as the charity and we get a small percentage of everything you buy. From books at Amazon to just about everything elsewhere...if you buy online, go to GoodShop.com first and remember to list BonaResponds as the charity. :)
- Christmas in Haiti (HaitiScholarships.org)
- HuffPost Greatest Person Of The Day: Kona Shen Uses Soccer To Inspire Haiti's Youth Leaders (huffingtonpost.com)
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
|BonaResponds Volunteers helping in Margaretville|
"I was recently speaking at an American Legion Post downstate in Delhi, New York. After the dinner and speeches were done a woman came up to me and asked if it was true that I worked at St. Bonaventure and I said yes. She immediately started to cry and wound up just holding me. I asked her what was the matter and she said that we have no idea how much the help from the BonaResponds students meant to her family and their area recently ravaged by the floods. She went on about that for awhile with several folks listening since they saw her crying, when I left their Post about a hour later she came up and thanked me again and wanted to make sure the folks back at Bonas knew how much that meant. "I have no idea who the woman was. No clue. I do not even know if we worked on her home or not. It could be any of many that were helped on that trip, or a family member, or even just a neighbor who was worried about someone we helped. I have no idea.
I do know that many many times we have no idea of the residual impact of our work. (think butterfly in Africa). We can measure the dollar value of a job, but it fails to measure the true impact. I know that since graduation in May BonaResponds has provided about $300,000 in services to people. I report that to the BonaResponds board regularly. But the true value of this can not be completely measured in US dollars, Haitian Gourdes, or Ghanaian Cedi. To get the true value you can start with the currency but must also add in hugs, smiles, reduced anxiety, and tears of joy. And as a finance professor who teaches valuation, I just do not know how to value those, so I guess they are priceless :).
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
A few updates on things: (much info, so try to read them all)
- Work this past weekend in Limestone went well. Here are many many pictures of the job. We will be going back to finish the Sunday December 4th to finish. (if anyone wants to fix broken windows in his door for him (it is going to get cold!) We'd really appreciate it! Also if anyone has a BobCat (or wants to help rent one), it sure would make the job go faster.
- We are going to be working locally over Thanksgiving break in the Olean area. Work will be at least Fri-Sunday. If anyone wants to, I can probably be convinced to go out on Wednesday as well. Jobs include doing helping make a home handicap accessible, building a ramp, and packing for Haiti.
- Currently in waiting we have three ramp jobs, making 3 different homes accessible (one Olean, one Hinsdale, one Ellicotville), and finishing up in Limestone. SO WE WILL BE NEEDING VOLUNTEERS.
- Want to make a bigger impact? When shopping this Holiday Season, pick up some SMALL toys, school supplies, calculators, etc for Haiti. And we also will be sending some to a family in Athens/Sayre that not only got flooded, but the mother was hit by a truck when walking and the children will REALLY appreciate the Christmas presents.
- Also there is a Vocational school in Haiti looking for tools (hammers, drills, screw drivers, tape measures, speed squares and the like. They'd also love volunteers to help teach! Let me know if interested.Image by Bona_Responds via Flickr
- Another school in Haiti is looking for musical instruments and sheet music. So why not clean out your attic over break!
- It appears the Winter trip will be Jan 3 to January 12th. Most likely place is outside of Tuscaloosa. Details after Thanksgiving break.
- We NEED to do a fundraiser. We will be selling BonaResponds Hoodies and bracelets the week after Thanksgiving in the RC.
- Planning for the International Service Day is going well. It is March 31, 2012 Saturday. Jobs in Poland, Pakistan, Uganda, Haiti, Olean, Buffalo, Dallas, Orange County California, and more. NEed you involved. Big or small. With ties to SBU or not. Plan on helping! Sign up here: http://bonaresponds.org/isd.html
- There are 5 nice ways to help (from shopping, to giving alternative gifts, to dropping off supplies) on BonaResponds.org. Check them out!
Have a great Thanksgiving and remember to make a difference!
Thursday, November 10, 2011
" The researchers also found another interesting pattern of neural activity in the septal area. In addition to being a pleasure center, this region plays a role in threat- or stress-reduction by inhibiting other regions of the brain that process threats, such as the amygdala. Researchers found that the women who showed greater activity in the septal area also showed less activity in the amygdala.
"This finding suggests that support-giving may have stress-reducing effects for the person who provides the support," said Eisenberger, who directs UCLA's Social and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory. "Activity in the septal area during support-giving was negatively correlated with activity in the amygdala, which is a region known to play a role in fear and stress responses. If there is something about support-giving that leads to reductions in amygdala activity, this suggests that support-giving itself may have stress-reducing properties."
"Giving to others has benefits," said Inagaki, the lead author of the study....
read more here.
Cross posted on BonaResponds.org
BonaResponds will be working this Sunday. The main job will be removing a building that has been destroyed in Limestone. We will be working with the volunteer fire dept. that will be having a training/controlled burn after we move the materials away from other buildings and salvage anything that we can for recycling. Additionally there are three homes that need to be made handicapped accessible (installing hand rails etc), a ceiling needs repair, and of course there is another wheelchair ramp request. We likely will not get through all of these jobs, but we sure can try! (indeed we were told the house in Limestone would take 100 volunteers 5 days, my guess? 25 BonaResponds Volunteers in a single day! Let's accept the challenge!
Additionally, we want to ship our next shipment of school supplies, small toys, soccer balls, and other similar items to Haitian Schools over Thanksgiving Break. Since the earthquake we have shipped about 50 pallets of supplies and the schools report that the students love getting our shipments since they are both useful (pencils etc) as well as fun (toys, crayons, soccer balls). Additionally this last time we have had some requests from a vocational school in Leogane for tools (hammers, tape measures, etc), from a school near Port au Prince for basketballs, and from a school in Gonaives for all and any kind of musical instruments (we are not shipping a piano!) and sheet music. (all items can be new or used). (total disclaimer: items in excess of current needs or too expensive to ship will be shared with the poor in the Buffalo NY, Camden NJ, and elsewhere in the US).
If you would like to donate, you can drop off in the Business Dept upstairs in Murphy (my office is 231) or at the Allegany Park and Shop or email me (email@example.com) and we can arrange pick-up.
Friday, October 28, 2011
- SIFE will be sharing some donations of used computers. They will be going to the Bahamas, Haiti, and probably some inner city schools in the US. If you would like to help, please contact us. The donations come from SBU, local school districts, and others. THANK YOU.
- Got two pleasant surprises in today's BV. We will be receiving some money from a Halloween fund raiser on campus. 24 people will be touring the "Haunted areas" of Bonaventure. (I think it would be a great tour, too bad I missed out on it.) Also we will be getting volunteers from the newly re-formed Knights of Columbus on campus.
- Several jobs this weekend:
- On Saturday at 10:30 we will begin work from the back of Murphy. It currently looks like we will be doing many smaller local jobs (example: cutting some downed trees on trails, packing school supplies for Haiti, taking back some of the recyclables we cleaned off of Bruce's porch last week, and starting to frame some new ramps. We may also begin a job in Limestone, but would like to stay close to SBU to see some of the Woman's Rugby Playoff game. Go Legends!
- On Sunday we will be MAINLY making 600+ pizzas for the Catt County SPCA. This will be from about 11:00 to 3:45. (we leave campus at 11:10) Additionally a few people will be needed to do a smallish roof job in Hinsdale.
- How much does it cost to sponsor a student? (HaitiScholarships.org)
- Meet Maudeline one of our applicants for the coming school year (HaitiScholarships.org)
Thursday, October 13, 2011
"For Brian Johnson and his family, cleaning up their Athens home seems like a never-ending process; after more than a month of demolition, it’s also a process they could no longer handle by themselves.
“I don’t got the time. We’re working constantly, [and] then coming back here. There’s no time to do it,” Johnson said.
The video has Holly in it (she was helping to find us jobs and worked with us (or us her?) on a home). Also has shots of three of the homes we worked on :)
Monday, October 10, 2011
From the BV
"Last Saturday, members built a wheelchair ramp....in Buffalo.
This weekend, members are traveling to Athens, Pa., where flood waters [almost] 800 homes in the area.
Senior Jessica Misiaszek said she is looking forward to the trip.
"Even though it is midterm break, I would rather spend my time volunteering and helping people than sitting around and doing nothing," Misiaszek"
Sunday, October 09, 2011
First job was on Suterlee in Sayre PA. The house had been gutted but the basement had not been touched. It was a combination of mud and cement blocks as one side of the foundation had caved in. Relax Larry, it was safe. We had an assembly line up the stairs and to the curb. Went VERY fast. Then turned attention to the mud which was just wet enough to be relatively easy to scoop so long as there was not concrete in it--a fact which means that approximately 1 in 20 shovels were easy. Just when we thought we were getting close to done we realized there was a large crawl space with much mud, insulation, and heating conduits. Steve (Banger) did a great job of handing out barrels of insulation and wood to be disposed of.
AS the work began to near completion about half the group broke off and moved furniture and cleaned out the basement of the next door neighbors.
The largest job was a house on Maple that had not been touched since the flood; it had mud everywhere, carpets covering floors, and mold rampant, oh and by the way, there is still about an inch of water in the basement. The volunteers completely gutted 5 rooms and a stairway in about 4 hours. We have to go back to do the basement but otherwise the job is 95% done for gutting (some in bathroom).
Saturday, October 01, 2011
Haitian camp populations decline, but residents still in need – UN official:
30 September 2011 –
"The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) still in camps in Haiti after their homes were destroyed by last year’s catastrophic earthquake has declined from 1.5 million to 600,000, but hardship in the settlements has not eased, the United Nations humanitarian chief said today at end of her three-day visit to the country."
And from Canada's Chronicle Herald on Thursday:
"The latest figures from the UN’s Office of the Special Envoy on Haiti show slightly more than 40 per cent of the $4.6 billion in development funds promised to Haiti by the world’s governments for 2010-11 have been delivered. Haitians rightly fear that the shortfall in promises for the years beyond 2011 will grow as the world moves on. .....and later:
"Among the observations of our 10-day, fact-finding mission to Haiti this past June are the following:Related articles
• Life in the displaced persons camps remains harsh. In many, there is no ready access to potable water, toilets, bathing facilities and medical services.
• Nearly half of the buildings in Port au Prince left standing by the earthquake are unsafe for habitation, yet Haitians have moved back into them in large numbers.
• New shantytowns housing tens of thousands of people have arisen on the arid lands beyond the former northern perimeter of the city as people lose faith — or patience — in formal reconstruction plans."
- Georgianne Nienaber: Haiti: Cholera Down but People Still "Abandoned Like Stray Dogs" (huffingtonpost.com)
- No tarp relief for Haiti's homeless | Mark Weisbrot (guardian.co.uk)
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
"I learned a lot of technique from him and passed on a lot of knowledge to him," Johnson said. "Dr. Alexander would be a valuable contribution to Lowell, but I would not want to contribute to the Haitian brain drain. They need him."
Johnson said he was stunned by the lack of progress he observed between his first and second trips, a year apart.
"The Presidential Palace is still pancaked," he said. "People are still living in tent cities. The Anglican Cathedral is still destroyed.
"Billions of dollars came into the country, but there is no visible significant construction going on," he said.
This is a big reason why we are collecting school supplies and construction tools. Money can be stolen and wasted, but it is much harder to make off with a bunch of hammers, pens, or pencils.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Bona’s responds to Catskills’ call - Features - The Bona Venture:
"BonaResponds volunteers were inundated with a desire to help the people of the Catskills region after Hurricane Irene's devastation, and the group stepped up to help the suffering community.
Upward of 30 students and volunteers came together in Marga-retville, N.Y. to help with the restoration and revitalization of the city. Jessica Misiaszek, a senior journalism and mass communication major, was among the volunteers.
"I have never experienced a tornado (or) hurricane disaster, so when I see other places undergo these disasters, I want to help," Misiaszek wrote in an email. "I would rather spend my time helping others that need it, than doing nothing and worrying about my own life."
and later in the same article:
"Residents were extremely gracious and appreciative of St. Bonaventure's outreach. The two-day trip allowed students to get a true sense of the importance of helping communities in need.
"The people of the Catskills thanked our group several times for our efforts," [Alexandra] Perl wrote. "BonaResponds is a phenomenal organization dedicated to providing comfort, stability and emotional support to victims of tragedy."
On Saturday we were in the Olean Times Herald:
"For many college students, summer is a time to relax, travel, work, or catch up with friends and family.
For a number of dedicated St. Bonaventure University students with the BonaResponds group, this summer was anything but relaxing as they helped with several natural disasters around the country"
We were also in on Sunday but I can not find a link.
And on Sunday James Torres was on the front page of the Elmire StarGazette:
Flood cleanup in the Valley | stargazette.com | Elmira Flood of 2011 | Star-Gazette: JASON WHONG / STAFF PHOTO
James Torres, 21, of Long Island, an English major at St. Bonaventure University and volunteer for BonaResponds, dumps insulation material in a pile Saturday in front of the home of Sue Green on Maple Street in Athens.
Another picture from inside the paper is here. (shows Larry and James)
Saturday, September 17, 2011
"Nervous about what?" you say. Everything I say: from someone getting injured to being too poorly organized, from there being too much work to there being too little; from not getting enough done and being in over our heads (literally sometimes!), to not living up to expectations (my own or worse those we have come to help.)
Every trip is like this to varying degrees. I remember being scared going into Biloxi after Katrina on our first trip; scared I would not be able to do anything to help. Scared I was too weak, too inexperienced in disaster response volunteering. Scared I would embarrass myself or those with me.
On subsequent trips to the Gulf I worried I picked the wrong place ('who in the world is Randy?' 'What is Randy's Rangers?', 'could we do more elsewhere?'), whether we could cut the trees they wanted removed, whether we would be as good at putting drywall up as taking it down. 9 trips to the Gulf and was afraid at the start of every one.
I remember vividly when cleaning up a flood in Gowanda NY worrying whether we would be able to satisfy the town leaders who had called references on us before agreeing to allow us in. In Iowa the worry was whether the drive was too long for the amount of work we could accomplish. In Springfield Massachusetts whether we would be able to make an impact on our first short trip after being told repeatedly they had volunteers and had it covered. In Haiti whether I would be able to do any good, and whether I would let down those I so wanted to impress and win over or whether the different culture and environment would be too much. In Tuscaloosa, Alabama whether I would live up to the expectations of my "finance friends" several of whom who wanted answers to simple questions that I had no idea of (like a few days before the trip: "how many are coming"..lol).
But in most of those we had at least the veil of the towns people not knowing of us in advance. If we failed it would have been that "group of Yankees", "lazy Americans", "some college volunteers", or "those New Yorkers". That veil is pierced here. "The Valley" is too close to Bonaventure. Caitlin's parents, Erin's Mom and Dad, my former students, too many alums, to close to home. We are known, our record is known, and that raises expectations; we can't let them down. That makes me nervous.
Indeed in many ways I feel I personally have already let them down: we have a small turn out. Too few volunteers. Why? Who knows, but I know I attribute it to poor marketing by me. While I am not sure if it is too little marketing (potential volunteers did not know the enormity of the destruction) or too much (and like the boy who cried wolf, my cries fall on deaf ears), it was my fault. I let them down. People will not get back into their houses because I failed them.
Moreover, while every single person we help is important, it can be easier to work on a home of someone you do not know. Why? Because you are tearing apart the house and it is uncomfortable in the best of times. But if you do not know the family well, you have a mental shelter, however fragile, to retreat to--it is someone's else and will likely never see that person again.
But this time is different. Our first house tomorrow will be on a house of a current SBU student who is with us on this trip. Yes you read that correctly. I had no idea when we chose the locale, but a volunteer who traveled here with us will be working on his own home. I am sure it will be stressful for him and his family. Even more than on every other home I have worked on, I hope we can help. I hope we can help enough to make a real difference.
I hope we live up to the expectations of city officials who have waived some driving restrictions for us so that we can get to more homes tomorrow. How I am afraid I will have to say no to many of those who have asked our help. Not because I want to, but simply because we are limited by a lack of volunteers or by my poor organization that leads to inefficiencies.
I am writing this not to sound like a bumbling coward, but to let those people who are afraid to volunteer, know that being afraid is not a good excuse. For if it were, nearly every BonaResponds project would never have gotten off the ground, and untold thousands of people would be a bit worse off right now.
So face your fears, come out and volunteer. You can do it. You are not too old, too young,too fat, or too skinny. Not too busy or too inexperienced. You will not embarrass yourself, you will not mess things up. I have those covered for you. Come and help. You will be glad you did, but you know who will be even more glad you came to help? The people you helped.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
" The streets of Athens Borough were shutdown as debris crews picked up all furniture, appliances or damaged goods on sidewalks.
The streets are filled with neighbor’s cherished goods."
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
This weekend! Flood response, Buffalo, and local activities. We really need volunteers! (and drivers)
Never satisfied with just "busy" BonaResponds has opted to make a huge impact this weekend on multiple fronts in multiple areas. So here goes:
- Flood relief--as you know, thousands of homes were flooded from the one-two punch of Irene and Lee. We are going back to help this weekend. After much deliberation, we decided to go to Athens PA. This will allow us to help in Owego, Athens, Sayre, and Towanda. We will be staying in the local school. (This was made possible by Erin Sullivan who is a former student of mine at SBU). Watch the video:
Sign up for the trip here.
If you can drive, we'd love it. If you bring 4 people and drive, we will pay your gas. It is just over 2 hours from SBU as well as Rochester. It is about 50 minutes from Binghamton. (which was our second choice to go to. But from reports of people on the ground, Binghamton had more volunteers already, so we opted to take the road less traveled).
Bring sleeping bags, clothes you don't mind getting dirty, a good attitude and a willingness to help others!. I will give a more complete list in a subsequent blog entry.
2. Buffalo. Prior to the floods we had a day planned for Buffalo. While we have scaled it back dramatically, there are two jobs that we'd really like to still do. The Bob Lanier Center has had a few recent break-ins and vandalism. They have asked us to paint graffiti and help restore the community center. This is a SATURDAY only job.
Also in Buffalo there is a ramp project that is pretty important. It is for a girl who lives at Baker Victory Services but can not go home to see here mom anymore since there is no ramp. It is a job that is screaming to be done. I realize many of you are tired of ramps, but please remember that to the person getting the ramp, it is the most important thing you can do and they are appreciative. This is from Sabrina, the person who contacted me about the job last month:
".my resident has profound intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, and a trachea. The only thing she has to look forward to is visiting her mother. Unfortunately, mom's house is not wheelchair accessible, and she is unable to afford a ramp (had a stroke shortly after giving birth). This will change a family's life for a very long time."Sabrina has several skilled people lined up to help, but we need a leader there to coordinate the work (and get lumber etc).
3. In Olean, Future pro-bowler Jen Thomas will be heading a small team on Saturday to help the SPCA with their fund raiser (and likely walk some dogs too ;) )
Ok, hang on...going to be an awesome ride! You will be making a huge impact no matter where you choose. So come on out and help!
Multiple fronts of attack this weekend. If you want to volunteer, we have a job for you!
Monday, September 12, 2011
For those who have been flooded out, here is a report on how to deal with mold. Be sure to read it. It is a study done by friend of mine on homes we helped work on in Mississippi. (the Hope VI homes for those of you on the trips)
"For a presentation on the Hope VI experiment, a comprehensive test of the efficacy of different methods of mold removal in post-Katrina Coastal Mississippi conducted in 2006, please click here.
For complete instructions on the 4-step low cost process that Hands On Gulf Coast used with high success, please click here."
Gut, use wire brushes to remove visible (and invisible) spores (griding), vacuum, wipe down, prime.
I will say it can be tedious work, but this study shows it works much better than bleach alone.
Friday, September 09, 2011
I feel I am letting the flood victims down, but am confident it is the decision that makes the most sense given we have 60 local volunteers coming tomorrow from Terry Moran's class and have several jobs to do locally.
THAT SAID, and I can not stress it enough, we will not turn our back on the flood victims. The extra time will give us the opportunity for a larger response. It is my guess that some will be there next weekend and it is looking more and more likely to the the location of our fall break trip as well.
Here is probably the best coverage of much of this round of flooding that I have seen:
from the Sacramento Bee.
Thursday, September 08, 2011
Several SBU alumni have been in contact as well. We have several local jobs planned this weekend, so it may be impossible to take many people, but we are exploring possibilities of teaming with other groups to help. Stay tuned.
- Thousands told to evacuate as flash floods hit East (msnbc.msn.com)
- Remnants of Lee Bring Fresh Flood Worries to East (foxnews.com)
- Remnants of Lee bring fresh flood worries to East (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
"Whatever the motive, such policy changes come as the downturn has left a growing number of low-income families in worse financial trouble.
The percentage of children living in poverty rose during the last decade, particularly once the recession hit and unemployment soared.
By 2009, about 2.4 million more children’s families lived below the poverty line than in 2000, an increase of 18 percent, according to a recent analysis of Census Bureau data"
What sums it up is:
BonaResponds helps with those who fall through the "ever widening cracks": The person who makes too little to afford home repairs, but too much to get it done by some state program. Or after a disaster when many things go wrong. By being small and nimble we can help these people. We do help these people.
“We’re O.K. unless something — anything at all — goes wrong,” said Rachel Haifley,
BTW I am not saying the cracks should not be there as it may be more efficient to have cracks than bloated bureaucracies intended to catch every crack, but I am saying that those who slip through the cracks need help. And we can do that. Be it with a wheelchair ramp for a veteran who somehow has been turned down by the VA, or school supplies for the children whose parents have lost their job.
Saturday, September 03, 2011
Finished 11 jobs in the Margaretvill/Ashville area. Mainly mudding out basements/first floors.
- Some of today's events:
- Mudding out 4 home basements
- Jacking up a porch
- Sweeping out a first floor (it had been gutted but thin layer of mud remained)
- Removing furniture and other items from first floor, removing carpets, and storing items to allow house to be gutted and heaved floors to be replaced.
- Counseling several residents on "next step" (typically bleach and ventilate to allow wood to dry)
- Removing appliances and furniture from several apartments (to give you an idea of # of appliances, they filled 3 medium sized dumpsters, helping tenants salvage any of their belongings before their apartments were to be gutted
- Mudding the basement of a local theater. (Note, this was a HUGE job--at least 25 volunteers...may never have seen a team work so hard for 2 straight hours. GREAT work VOLS!!)
- Removing a tree trunk that was potentially blocking stream under bridge.
- several volunteers worked in food bank in Margaretville.
- At night, packed 2+ pallets of medicine for shipment to Eithiopia with Citihope.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
- YES WE NEED VOLUNTEERS!
- We will decide van departure times today at the 5:30 BonaResponds meeting in Murphy (aud). Best guess is one van will leave on Thursday night (9:30?) and a second van 5:00pm on Friday.
- it is unfortunate but yes we do have to be back on Sunday. HOWEVER, if you want to stay longer, we will help arrange places for you to stay and tools..
- We do need drivers. You must be PREAPPROVED by SBU, so please let us know ASAP if you are willing to drive.
- We will be staying with the Catskill Mountain Christian Center in Margaretville.
- Most of the work will be mudding out houses.
- Thanks to generous donations in the past, we purchased two sump pumps (our other ones were destroyed in Gowanda). One is a gas powered pump that can pump 16 gallons per minute.
- BonaResponds' stars Larry and Bonnie will be in Margaretville by this evening to scout jobs etc.
They also took about 20-25 gallons of bleach. Much of this was left over from the floods in Olean area last year. And our new LARGE pump.
- Best description of what it is like is that "it is just like Gowanda in 2009 but it is town after town of the same".
- Many groups coming together to provide food and water and cleaning supplies, but difficult as needs are widely spread and many stores are closed due to their own flooding.
- Be sure to have those affected file with FEMA.The Red Cross will likely be getting us cots, but I can not guarantee it yet. We do have a place to stay in Margaretville, NY. The area was hit especially hard and in the center of several towns that need help.
- The Mennonite Disaster Response crew will also be in the area! They are very very good. :)
View Larger Map
Special requests: laundry detergent, diapers (baby and adult), and baby food. The grocery store (and many other stores in area) were flooded. You can drop off these items at 231 Murphy on the SBU campus or at the Allegany Park and Shop (24 N 1st Allegany NY) (our typical Haiti collection spots).
We are open to all who want to help. Here is a sign up form. You will also have to sign this waiver form.
Here is a video of recovery efforts in the area:
Here is one during the flood which gives some idea of how high it was (16 feet of water!) Wow:
I will end with two things:
1. There is a clear need for assistance. You can and will help people and have a great time.
2. Imagine if you were flooded out. Or your parents. Or your grandparents. Wouldn't you want someone to help.
Open to All. See BonaResponds.org for more.
What to bring? Space in vans may be tight, this is not an exhaustive list, but here are some recommendations:
- A good attitude--by far the most important. We want hard working and flexible people who want to help. It will be fun even though it won't go as planned.
- Work clothes (jeans, long sleeve tee, short sleeve tee, sweatshirt, workboots (ideally steel toed).
- Gloves--leather is best IMO
- Sun glasses/safety goggles
- Sleeping bag (pillow if you want one--yoga block works great and is smaller)
- Phone charger
- Digital camera, charger
- Toiletries etc (contacts, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc)
- Water bottle
- Granola bars etc for drive
You can meet us there! By all means.
- Irene devastates Catskills (nydailynews.com)
- Cuomo Asks Obama to Declare Disaster in New York State (cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com)
- A.M. Roundup: 'This will get worse,' Cuomo predicts (timesunion.com)
- With Shocking Speed, Floods Turn Deadly (nytimes.com)
Monday, August 29, 2011
Work will be a mix of mucking out homes and tree removal. MUST say the actual counts etc are still very uncertain, but it looks like the work will be present for months. We will be updating as the week goes on but we are going somewhere! Sign up now:
Conference call with NY VOAD
* last night 78 Red Cross Shelters...many closing as needs wane
* heard from groups in NYC, Long Island etc...
FEMA is sending 500 paid employees/contractors.
Good source for flood details:
BonaResponds meeting this Wednesday at 5:30 pm in the Murphy Auditorium. Purpose of the meeting is to introduce BonaResponds and to determine leadership structure. With many local projects, school collections, disaster responses, service trips, and our continued Haiti efforts pressing our time, we need many leaders and many people to help (Many hands make light work). We really need you to be there :) It will be short (out by 6pm).
ALSO while Hurricane Irene was less severe than feared, it has caused significant flooding and destruction in many parts of the Northeast and Mid Atlantic. We have received a couple of work requests and there is a VERY high probability of trip THIS coming weekend to help. Location to be determined based on need. Watch BonaResponds.org (follow us on twitter @BonaResponds) for updates as the week goes on. We'd love to have you help!
- The Internet Responds To Hurricane Irene (buzzfeed.com)
- A new podcast ! (HaitiScholarships.org)
- Hurricane Irene cleanup begins on battered East Coast (framework.latimes.com)
Thursday, August 25, 2011
"The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported August 19, 2011 that there are about 594,800 people living in about 1000 displacement camps in Haiti. Most want to leave but have nowhere to go. Nearly 8000 people have been evicted in the last three months. Their report concludes by saying “With nearly 600,000 internally displaced persons still in camps, the scale of Haiti’s homeless problem remains daunting.”"
and then making it more personal:
"Mathias O is 34 years old. He is one of about 600,000 people still homeless from the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He lives with his wife and her 2 year old under a homemade shelter made out of several tarps. They sleep on the rocky ground inside. The side tarp walls are reinforced by pieces of cardboard boxes taped together. Candles provide the only inside light at night. There is no running water. No electricity. They live near a canal and suffer from lots of mosquitoes. There are hundreds of families living in tents beside him. This is the third tent community he has lived in since the earthquake."
How can you help? We are still collecting and shipping school supplies, soccer balls, small toys for children, musical instruments, and carpentry tools to multiple groups in Haiti. Also you can help send a student to school in HaitiScholarships.org.
- Protests Over Evictions in Haiti Blocks Traffic (hcvanalysis.wordpress.com)
- Improving lives by providing access to safe water in Haiti (repeatingislands.com)
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
Welcome to the BRAND NEW HaitianHappenings podcast. It is brought to you by HaitiScholarships (http://HaitiScholarships.org) and BonaResponds (BonaResponds.org) (paid for by an anonymous outside donor so your donations were not used).
The purpose of the podcast is to give people a sense of what is happening in Haiti and to be able top follow up on their donations to see how they are helping Haitians.
We will try to do a different podcast weekly (maybe more, maybe less) depending on time and interest.
Kicking off the podcasts will be today's interview with Jean Kendy Estimphil of Leogane Haiti. I had the pleasure of meeting Jean Kendy last year in Haiti and he has helped both BonaResponds and HaitiScholarships immensely both in translation, being our person on the ground for distribution of supplies (the link is a set of pictures)/Listen to the interview here
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Ok, so it may not save you. Her logic?
"...In Haiti where I work, most of the volunteers arrive and lose weight, get a suntan, meet hundreds of new friends, help save lives and some even fall in love. My intent is to get everyone out of therapy and out helping others. You soon forget about your own mind-pounding problems and realize that yours aren't so bad after all. "
Which is definitely true, but also sets you up for sadness when you leave Haiti (or wherever).
But that said, it is a great article on spontaneous volunteering that reminds us all that we can help. My favorite line (ok, maybe second favorite after the stripper comment;) ) was Allison speaking about her time at Ground Zero after 911:
" During those days, Fema (google them) kept visiting our little makeshift first aid station trying to shut us down. They would declare it was time for the government professionals to take over, but on their 3rd visit to us something very unique happened. The Fema agent gave us his usual spiel about sending the volunteers out of ground zero, but then he covered his badge and proclaimed, "please stay, we really need your help." This one sentence, less than a Twitter feed, helped define the next ten years of my life as I set out on volunteer adventures all over the world. Why? Because I knew I was needed even when the large aid groups got on TV told me I wasn't."
Which has been our experience again and again after disasters.
It also has a nice conclusion:
"Volunteering doesn't have to be overseas. Our country is struggling with so many people out of work. Its time to ask, 'how can I help?'"
One way to help is to come help BonaResponds! We do things every weekend and have 7 wheel chair ramps, 4 roofing jobs, a drywall job, and an addition planned locally not to mention work on local trails, collections for schools, and continued efforts to help in Haiti. Oh and planned trips to Buffalo NY, Camden NJ, and Tuscaloosa AL.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
"On June 1, 2011 a tornado ripped though my city, my neighborhood, and my home. It was devestating to se such destruction....although my home had minimal damage, it had 8 trees fall in my back yard. It was heartbreaking. But with your kind efforts and dedication, I was able to see some good through this destruction. Thanks to you and your group. Again Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. God bless all of you!!!"
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
I will start with the "news"...Chris Zahuta of California a volunteer for All Hands in Leogane Haiti died from a fall. Here is the story from the Hands.org site: (reposted with permission)
"Remembering Chris ZahutaIt is with deep sorrow that we announce the tragic loss of one of our brightest volunteers, Chris Zahuta, 20, from Santa Ynez, CA. Chris, who had been volunteering with us in Leogane, Haiti since June 6, worked tirelessly on our transitional schools program. He was respected and cherished by all and had built strong friendships with volunteers and community members alike. He took great joy in making a difference in the lives of Haitians, which was evident in his enthusiasm and energy. Tragically, on Sunday, July 17, Chris suffered severe head trauma after a serious fall. He was flown by helicopter to Port au Prince, then on to Miami by air ambulance, where he passed away. Chris’ sudden loss is deeply felt in Leogane, where community members have begun to light candles and place flowers outside the All Hands base.
In an email Chris sent to his mother on the 8th of June, he said, "today was so much fun working…I love the people and the area is like nothing you could ever imagine! I love it! I’m going to make it and change someone’s life! I love you mom and I miss you!"
Chris' mother, Christie has written the following:
“Our Son and brother Christopher Zahuta just spent 6 1/2 of the most amazing weeks of his life in Leogane, Haiti with All Hands Volunteers. When we took him to the airport on June 6, 2011 we expected to see him again on July 22, 2011. Sadly that was not to be. He accidentally fell and suffered a head injury which resulted in his death. But even with this horrific turn of events I do not regret him going in any away. He dreamed of doing this and helping others and making a difference in someone's life. He sent me many emails describing how amazing his time there was and the wonderful people he was meeting. Knowing that he was working on schools to help the children there was one of the most fulfilling experiences of his life. Now he is back in the states as we wait for the hospital to do what is necessary for organ donation. When he first got to Haiti he told me that he was going to make it and change someone's life! And now, as much as I want him with me, he is going to be changing even more lives. He was born December 13, 1990 and I had the honor of being his mother for more than 20 years”.All Hands pays tribute to this wonderful, hardworking young man, who volunteered with passion to help communities in need. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Chris' family and friends, and we share in their grief.
Christopher's Family (Christie Jeffers-mother)
For further information please contact Stefanie Chang at firstname.lastname@example.org."
I would add that the thoughts and prayers of all of BonaResponds goes out to Chris' family. It is a sad time. We have worked with All Hands many times and several of us volunteered in Haiti with them last year. I confess I did not know Chris, but I feel like I lost a friend. Maybe it is because he was doing what we do, maybe because he was being the example we all need. Regardless it strikes close to home.
Please take some time to remember Chris' life. But also do not forget that he died helping. He died where he wanted to be, doing what he wanted to do.
Life is full of risks and rewards. Helping others, be it in Haiti or in your own home town, is the same. Do not be scared away from it. Do not stay away from Haiti. Accidents can happen anywhere. We can all learn from this death. We can remember to take precautions, but in the end, bad things can still happen. But, like Chris, we must make the most of our time on earth to make a positive impact.
I am sure that Chris would want all of us to pull together to help even more, not less. To make a difference, the difference that Chris was making. The difference that Chris' actions will continue to make.
And finally to Chris himself. I do not know if you can read this, but thank you for being the example. For showing us that each of us can make a difference. Your death, while tragic and sad, will not be in vain. Your actions will live on through all of your many friends, family, and your All Hands family as well. The students in the schools that you helped to build, the Haitians who you met on the streets, will all be richer because of your actions. Thank you.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Haiti death toll: The science of measuring civilian death tolls is controversial and crucial - Los Angeles Times
Haiti death toll: The science of measuring civilian death tolls is controversial and crucial - Los Angeles Times:
"Within days of the event, Haitian authorities estimated that more than 230,000 people had been killed and another 300,000 injured. A year later, the prime minister claimed instead that 316,000 citizens had died. Few outsiders questioned the numbers or their underlying methodologies at the time, despite the statistics appearing to have been plucked out of thin air.
In June, a consultancy group commissioned by the U.S. Agency for International Development offered a dramatically reduced death toll. The authors of the study claimed that between 46,000 and 85,000 Haitians had been killed and another 850,000 assembled in camps. Although the numbers were considerably more conservative than the Haitian government's figures, the authors did not adequately explain how they were generated.
There are reasons to be cautious about both the high and the low estimates."
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
"'Sports, and by extension sports media, can be a powerful force for good. It can bring people together. It can provide hope, even in the midst of great destruction,' says Dr. Ken Zagacki, co-author of a paper describing the research and a professor of communication at NC State. 'But we have to be careful that we don't use sports to gloss over real problems. We don't want to 'move on' from tragedies like Katrina when real social problems remain.'"
FYI after Katrina BonaResponds collected enough softball and baseball equipment to outfit more than 2 leagues near Bay St. Louis/Waveland MS, and after the Haitian Earthquake we helped to send about 300 soccer balls to Haiti. (and we are still accepting donations of soccer or basketballs!)
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
Things they asked for:
- More school supplies (really loved the calculators some sent last time). Also pens, crayons, pencils, etc.
- Basketballs and soccer balls were also mentioned. (Since the quake we have sent about 300 soccer balls)
- A basketball net (I wonder if they meant rim and net?)
- Musical instruments (any kind, but really want Saxaphone, trumpet) and sheet music
- A new trade school would LOVE tools. Hammers, drills, tape measures, etc., pretty much anything. I requested pictures of what they have now and will share when I receive them.
Items can be dropped off at Park and Shop Allegany (24 N 1st) or to the upstairs business secretary in Murphy Building on the West side of St. Bonaventure.
Also our spin-off HaitiScholarships.org is trying to fund up to 50 students to go to school in Haiti Classes start there this fall and any and all help would be GREATLY appreciated!
- Meet the Students (HaitiScholarships.org)
- Meet Maudeline one of our applicants for the coming school year (HaitiScholarships.org)
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
"In an era of dwindling revenue and slashed spending, volunteerism is becoming a crucial part of city operations and a strategy to solve its most pressing problems.Gee, we are definitely on this this one! From cleaning parks, painting fire hydrants, painting schools, etc.
The goal: Turn piecemeal civic efforts into organized citywide campaigns that concentrate volunteer power on programs that benefit the community at large.
'It's brilliant in its simplicity,' says Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. 'What we've all come to realize is that there are many folks who want to give their time, want to give their talent but, in a lot of cases, cities struggle with how they want to utilize that talent.'