Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Volunteers are the new city employees -

Volunteers are the new city employees -
"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.

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.'
Gee, we are definitely on this this one! From cleaning parks, painting fire hydrants, painting schools, etc.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The secret of happiness (yes, now you know) « Pro-Human Extremist

An great look at how altruism may actually be the key...and also selfish.

The secret of happiness (yes, now you know) « Pro-Human Extremist:
"Caring for and serving others brings joy and peace of mind greater than anything we get from indulging ourselves. A life dedicated merely to self-gratification, however successful it appears to be, is ultimately hollow and unrewarding.

Why is this? Because that is how we are made—that is our nature. The human species has evolved by natural selection so that each of us has a sincere capacity for altruism. It’s not always uppermost in our minds, and we don’t always act on it, but at bottom we do care about other people and want them to be well. Helping others is what gives our lives meaning. And without an opportunity to do so, we come to feel that our lives are pointless, and we become dissatisfied. All of that is a product not merely of social conditioning but of our biological nature.
Read the rest of it...It is worth it!

As many of you know Joel (the author) is a biology professor at SBU.

A major thank you to Holy Cross Parish and Springfield college!

A major major thank you to Holy Cross Parish and the Springfield College for providing us food and a place to stay. The accommodations were EXCELLENT!

It should be noted that Springfield College was also hit by the tornado. Here is a post they had following the disaster:

Restoration, Transformational Commitment Present as Springfield College Recovers from Tornado:
"“The College has sustained millions of dollars in damage, primarily focused on residence halls in the southwest quadrant of campus,” said President Richard B. Flynn. “Fortunately the structural reports for our buildings were very good, and we have been given the go-ahead to proceed with restoration. Smaller repairs around campus are underway, and we have an aggressive plan to assure that those residence halls that were damaged will be ready for occupancy fall semester.

'We’ve been cleaning up and now we’re moving forward,” he continued. “In the meantime, we are aware of how fortunate we were, and are thankful there were no injuries to students, faculty, or staff.”

Hundreds of the College’s century-old trees were lost, including some very special specimen trees on the Naismith Green. Flynn expressed commitment to planting new trees. “They will be our gift to future generations of Springfield College students, faculty, staff, and alumni,” he said.

Flynn acknowledged the outpouring of support from the Springfield College family. “Moments after the tornados had passed through the area, Springfield College faculty, staff, and students, our extended family of alumni, and many others reached out to the College with expressions of concern and offers of help,” he said.

In fact, students who were anxious to help pitched in quickly by assisting with clean up of the campus, and then turned their attention to serving those in need in the community. Volunteers made and delivered to neighbors more than 700 sandwiches and 30 to 40 cases of water. They also helped by engaging neighborhood children in activities so that their parents could focus on the cleanup.

'BonaResponds' Gets People Involved - WGGB abc40/FOX 6: News, Weather, Sports: Springfield, MA

'BonaResponds' Gets People Involved - WGGB abc40/FOX 6: News, Weather, Sports: Springfield, MA:

Here is a video of Jenna Hagist (a Springfield TV reporter) who came to volunteer with us today:

"A group of students and professors from St. Bonaventure University in New York that has been spending their time here in Springfield helping families cleanup from the June 1st tornadoes. They call themselves BonaResponds, and now I'm an official member.

'Honestly it's the greatest feeling in the world. I enjoy every minute of what I have done so far and working with a bunch of people I just met,' said volunteer Jessica Misiaszek.

This cleanup group was created right after Hurricane Katrina and since then they've responded to disasters in 14 different states.

'It's been great even though we've been at this since 2006, this is now the third generation of kids we've had come through. They are still wanting to help,' said Bonaventure University Professor Jerry Godbout.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Weekend plans Springfield MA tornado recovery

What we know:
  1. We will be working in Springfield Massachusetts from Friday AM to Tues PM.
  2. We would love others to come help with us!  We are open to all. (EVERYONE must fill out this form--NO EXCEPTIONS.  We will have the form at job sites as well.)
  3. We plan on starting all workdays from the Holy Cross Parish Parking lot (221 Plum Tree Road)  Friday and Saturday work begins at 9:00.  Sunday (9:30).  Monday and Tues 9:00. 
  4. After work on Saturday and Sunday we will be getting together back at the church (6pm on Saturday, 5 pm on Sunday) for a meeting/meal.
  5. If you have tools (wheel barrels, rakes, chainsaws) please bring them.  All volunteers should wear gloves and boots.  We also recommend long sleeves and long pants as well.
  6. There are jobs for everyone.  From cutting trees, to hauling limbs to the curb, raking lawns, tarping roofs, and working in shelters. Also scouting jobs, feeding, etc.  So plan on helping!
We are staying at the Church of Christ at 61 Upper Church Road in WEST Springfield.  You will be sleeping on the floor so bring a sleeping bag and maybe a pad.

Watch and the BonaResponds blog for future updates.

You can sign up to volunteer:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

BonaResponds Massachusetts trip 2

This past weekend 8 BonaResponds volunteers (several who had just returned from our 2 week trip to Alabama) traveled to Massachusetts to help in their tornado cleanup.  The volunteers found a region that was hit hard by the tornadoes and not equipped to handle the thousands and thousands of downed trees and destroyed homes.  With so much work to do, we are going back! and want you to come with us...

The trip will be from Thursday afternoon to Tuesday afternoon.  We will be going to Springfield MA. It is open to everyone.

Cost is $5 for a t-shirt. Meals and a place to stay are included. 

You can meet us there.
You can come for a fraction of the time.
You will have a good time.
You will make a positive difference!

What to bring?

    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, work boots (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

If you are local to the Massachusetts area and can bring wheel barrels and rakes, it would be a big help. 

To sign up and for more information please see 

But please come.

Biggest need: drivers, skilled chain saw users, leaders, you!

all volunteers must sign this form:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, June 13, 2011

An update on our weekend in Springfield MA (including virtual paper plate awards)

  A small, but hard working crew of 8 BonaResponds volunteers traveled to Springfield Massachusetts to help clean up after their recent tornadoes.  Some notes on the trip:

  • The damage is extensive.  Many many trees down and hundreds of homes destroyer. Unlike Alabama, most of the destroyed homes that we saw are still standing (not blown entirely away).
  • We did not travel east of Springfield but from what we heard the damage there is even worse.
  • We cleaned out 9 yards.  It is hard to estimate exactly how much we saved the home owners, but one of the jobs had been quoted at $4,200 and it was a pretty average job.  If that price is an accurate representation of the "average" job, we contributed well over $30,000 services.  Personally I think it is a bit high, but I am comfortable with saying we contributed $25,000.
  • We teamed with many quite a few local residents (and hopefully future BonaResponds volunteers).  These included a large number of home owners (it is always a treat to work along side those who live there--it was one of the things I really missed in Alabama).  We also worked with parishioners of the Holy Cross Parish in Springfield. 
  • We had 5 chain saws going much of the time.  This allowed us to break up and tackle multiple jobs at once.  
  • We largely went up and down the area near Surrey and Agnes Streets.  Indeed, on each neighbor after neighbor came and we went house to house. (Reminiscent of our very non Katrina trip in 2006 for the October Surprise Snow Storm in Buffalo as neighbors helped neighbors).
  • Many neighborhoods are completely unliveable.  Not as bad as Tuscaloosa, but more similar than one would think based on news coverage.
  • There will be work for a long time to come. Just in Springfield, we had to turn down many jobs.
  • I hate to begin thanking people as I will miss someone, but would be remiss without trying, so BIG thank you's to Sr. Cindy and Br Bob for helping to arrange jobs, showers, food, and volunteers.  And also to Gareth Flannery and the West Springfield Church of Christ for allowing us to stay in their church. And finally Jason Sears who from Florida did more to assure this trip happened than anyone.  From contacting people on the ground, to arranging a place for us to stay, to constantly reminding me of the need for us there, the trip would likely not have occurred without Jason.
  • It was about a 7.5 hour drive, which while less than our recent Greenville and Tuscaloosa trips is still a non trivial jaunt.
  • Driving through Springville to leave I got a call from Jay Starr.  Jay is a friend from our trips to Biloxi where she was probably the best volunteer coordinator (organizer) I have seen.  She kept track of multiple job sites, where people were, etc.  I had not seen her since I think Iowa in 2007 after their floods.  Anyways the call went something like this: 
    • Me: "Hey long time" 
    • Jay:"Any chance you are driving a tan van through Springfield MA?" 
    • Me: "uh, do you have camera's spying on us"
    • Jay:" No, you just drove my Bill Driscoll and me.  We are in Springfield for tornado recovery efforts too."
  • Highlight of today (Monday-when we are back).. text message from Kelley a woman we helped yesterday (interestingly the job, which was extensive, arose when one of the volunteers asked to use a bathroom and saw the damage in the yard.)
"God bless the angels in Brown shirts that descended on my neighborhood last weekend.  they have touched my heart beyond words. Thank you !!!!!"

We want to go back.  Looking at distance and schedules, there are not many good times. It seems our best shot to make a huge difference is this Thursday to Wednesday.  We will be looking for a place to stay in Springfield and leaders.  Especially with chain saw experience.  If we go (and it looks like AllHands will also be going) you will be able to come for as long or as short as you want.  Housing and food will be free.  The memories, new friends, and fun will last a life time!  You should seriously CHANGE your schedule to come.  It will be worth it.

We did not do paper plate awards, but if I had assigned them: 
  • Jive: The "Jay Starr organizer" and "I can carry anything award" to Jive (Dan Michael).  He somehow can organize even my messy paperwork and would not stop (especially on Saturday) hauling debris from multiple sites at once.
  • Banger: The "Hipster most likely to make millions with new designs for safety glasses"award.  With luck the glasses block amber lights.  
  • Luis:  Loverboy Award He was enamored with beautiful women at nearly every site and had an unusual desire to impress everyone by using the new longer chain saw.
  • Jeff:  He gets two: 
              Paul Bunyan Award. Every time I turned around he was dropping another damaged tree. 
              Dance Party award: for breaking into Dance every time KidzBop comes on.
  • James: Short and Sweet award.  He came, was morning MVP for his work on getting all the saws going, and then had to leave after one day, but his work on saws continued on.
  • Jerry: the unsung hero award.  Never in the spotlight, but constantly taking logs that are larger than he is out to the curb, driving, and sawing.  
  • Larry:  The Renaissance Lumberjack. I have traveled to many jobs with Larry and I do not remember him every talking on so many many subjects: From Haiti to New Orleans, from music to movies, books to Buffalo, And literally everything else.  He made the miles fly by.

Not necessarily storm related:
  • The "Yellow car" "yellow motorcycle" " yellow boat" and a rare "yellow Jet Ski" game continues to thrill!
  • It is a KidzBop World. 'nuff said.
  • First song on the radio (after KidzBop CD) was Mean.  Last song on radio as I pulled off campus was Mean. 

 (pictures will follow--I left the camera in the van):

Friday, June 10, 2011

Volunteering in Massachusetts

What we know:

There is work.  We have confirmed this numerous times.  Some of the work is not yet lined up, but several people on the ground (including Bill of AllHands) and have confirmed there is much work for us in and around the Springfield area. 

We will be leaving SBU at 5:00pm (meeting to packup at 4:15 at storage to pack).

We have at least a van and a car (2) plus James (former leader) is meeting us there.

Tonight (it may change tomorrow) we will be staying at the West Springfield Church of Christ
61 Upper Church St. West Springfield, MA 01089.  We will be sleeping on the floor, so plan accordingly. 

It is a disaster zone.  Come prepared.  You will need boots, jeans, gloves, sun block, and a camera ;)

We will be working from 8AM to 6 PM on Saturday.  Sunday we will likely end at 5.  We are open to all.  If you have a job for us in the area, please let us know by emailing or calling 585.376.0231.   

We will have at least 3 chain saws but if you have others you can bring.  We do have a hard fast rule that you must wear chaps when using a chain saw for us.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Chiefs, Rams lend hand to tornado recovery effort in Joplin - Peter King -

Chiefs, Rams lend hand to tornado recovery effort in Joplin - Peter King -
"In 1994, when Matt Cassel was 11, his home was at the epicenter of the Northridge earthquake in California. Water from the inground swimming pool came crashing into the Cassel home, and a huge marble pillar pinned his father, Greg, beneath it. The family home was condemned. That's a heck of a thing for an 11-year-old to cope with.

That was big. But last Thursday was bigger. Much bigger. Matt Cassel and his new teammate, wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin, drove two hours from Kansas City to Joplin, where a tornado the previous Sunday had torn a ruinous two-mile-by-six-mile path through what once was Americana.

'It was the most shocking thing I've seen in my life, and I lived through being in the epicenter of a major earthquake,'' Cassel said over the weekend from his Kansas City home. 'The devastation is like a nuclear bomb went off. Huge trees, 100 years old, ripped out by the roots. A car thrown up into the middle of a tree. It's one of those things you can't imagine unless you're there.''

Look for a small response coming later this month from BonaResponds members from the Dallas area. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

It's OK to Cry, A poem from Bob

Bob McGrath is a 1950 SBU alum who is as hard of worker as any of our volunteers.  He worked with us in Galveston Texas after Hurricane Ike and recently in Tuscaloosa Alabama after their tornadoes. He is picture of him (and a group) at Mr. Beesely's house in Holt (near Tuscaloosa) where we worked for most of a day (partially with a crew from EWTN).  Bob is back row with green Star cap on.

While a very hard worker, he is also a poet.  Here is his most recent work on BonaResponds:

 It's OK to cry when the work is done

April Twenty Seventh Two Thousand and Eleven
People in Alabama all looked up to heaven,
Tornados were approaching, the sirens they did scream
         One struck with such a fury few folks have ever seen.

The need was overwhelming and many people died
         The folks in Alabama were sustained by their pride,
Five thousand houses damaged, many beyond repair
         Emotions ranged from hope and faith to gloom and despair

Many of the people who were witnessing the scene
         Sat in their living room by their television screen,
Most everyone agreed that the people needed aid
         That help in this disaster just could not be delayed.

A few college students up in Olean, New York
         Said we can all do something or we can sit and talk,
St. Bonaventure students were joined by friends and grads
         The college students rushed to help, joined by moms and dads.

Bona Responds was on the move, young and old alike
         Their thoughts were with the victims, just like Hurricane Ike,
The call went out, tweets were sent, off to Alabama,
Everyone involved feared a frightful panorama.

Vans were packed with students, a professor there to lead
         The drive was eighteen hours to help the folks in need,
They drove to Tuscaloosa with a rake, a tool, a glove
         The main thing that they brought with them; lots and lots of love.

Trees were cut and hauled away, debris was sifted through
         Tears and hugs were shared by all, with story telling too,
Chain saws buzzed throughout the day, and long into the night
         At sunrise the group set out as soon as it was light.

Clearing up the land was an important thing to do
         But lifting people’s spirits made the agenda too,
The Bonnies students worked real hard, also had some fun
All agreed, It’s OK To Cry When The Work Is Done.