Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Winter Break Trip

BonaResponds is making their next trip to the NYC area and we’d love you to come help!  We will be working in the area from December 28th to at least January 8th.  Plan on coming for a day, a week, or the whole time!  We’d love to have you work with us!

We will primarily be working out of Breezy Point NY where we have been working for the past month.  The work is changing and now we will no longer just be gutting houses but also helping in the recovery process.  This means we will be putting in floors, drywall, and helping those with disabilities by building wheelchair ramps.  

We will be working on some jobs that have been submitted to us by SBU alumni and others in the area that we have helped in the past as well as with Portlight Strategies who will be helping to fund projects for those with disabilities.  

How can you help?

1. Volunteer.  We need volunteers!  Our biggest need.  Sign up here:     You can come and stay for as long as you want (provided you abide by rules :) ) for $20.   That covers food too!

2. Do you have a truck and live in the NYC area?  We will need some way to transport lumber etc.  A pickup truck (with you driving) will save us much time!  (we can pay gas if that is the reason you don’t want to drive.)

3.  We still need a place to stay.  So if you know of anywhere (a church, a gym, a heated tent, a school, etc) with a kitchen and shower/bathroom, please let us know.  Our plan is to work in Breezy Point and Rockaway for the first part of our trip and then move to New Jersey and do the same thing again.  We will be sleeping in sleeping bags on cots most likely, but we do need a place to set up camp. :)

4.  We need volunteers!  (yeah I know it is #1 too, but we really need volunteers, so come help! :)  )

More details will be forthcoming as the date gets closer, but plan on being there to help!  

Friday, November 30, 2012

Big weekend for BonaResponds!

It is a big weekend for BonaResponds with events Both Saturday and Sunday locally and in Breezy Point (NYC). 

Locally work will include ramp building and finishing fencing at the SPCA that will allow up to 8 dogs to be outside at once (up from current 3).  Additionally we will be building a ramp for an elderly woman who is no longer able to get out of her house without much assistance.  The ramp will be framed and hopefully completed this weekend.  We will leave from Murphy at 11:00 each day.   Additionally, we'd really love to take supplies today (Friday) so if anyone has a pickup truck and can be free from 2:30-3:30, please let Jim know (jimmahar @ yahoo.com). 

Also happening in NYC on both Saturday and Sunday, a BonaResponds group (made up mainly of SBU alumni and friends) will be gutting homes in Breezy Point NY.    (The FDNY has agreed to transport us from Manhattan to Breezy Point for free!)   If you or others you know are interested, please email Rich Miller (Richardmiller1 @ gmail.com) for ride availability and location.  Or if you prefer, you can meet the group at the Gut and Pump HQ tents by the baseball fields near 208th street in Breezy Point.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Letter to volunteers


Thank you for volunteering!  Your volunteering will make a difference.  I promise you that you will make someone significantly better off.  So to start thank you.

First the basics:
The majority of us will be working in NY but Some of you will be working in NJ.  If you have not heard from us, we will assume you are working with us in NY, but if you have a specific reason to work in NJ, please let us know.  We do not have much room there, but can make most things work. :)

For those of you going to New Jersey (smaller group) you will be working in Middletown.  Frankie Matusek will be your contact.  His email is: MatuszFP10@bonaventure.edu  There are no vans from campus going to NJ.  You are responsible for getting there on your own.  Work will be out of St. Mary's Church on 19 Cherry Tree Farm Road, Middletown, NJ

Thursday :   Vans for NY will be leaving SBU as close to 5:30pm as possible (I have to work at the Park and Shop until 5, so it may be closer to 6).

We will be staying on 141st st in Rockaway. (the exact address will be emailed later as i want to be 100% sure).    (We will be arriving there about 1-2AM on Friday morning.) The site has multiple showers and is scheduled to have hot water and heat by the time we arrive!  This was a big find as many larger (yet still fiscally responsible) organizations are not hosting volunteers as they have been unable to find a site to stay. We were very luck to find this and have to offer a big thanks to all who helped (Especially Billy and Kelsey).

Friday through Sunday we will be working in the area.  Exact work sites are still being determined.  We will start at 9 AM.  On Friday meet at the corner of Newport and 121st street to get started.  Although it is improving, cell coverage was very poor in the area, so do not plan on being able to get in touch via email.  

Work will be in Rockaway, Breezy Point, and Long Beach.  The work is changing very fast (which is why I did not send this email until after the weekend so as to have more up to date job lists).  This is great news as it means more homes are getting cleared out! :)

We will return late Sunday.

We have slightly over 30 people officially signed up.  However,  via text, phone, and in person, quite a few others have said they are going as well.  I expect the number to grow as we approach the actual work.

What to bring:

My list:

What to bring:
  1. A good attitude--most important!  We want to help.  
  2. Work clothes (jeans, long sleeve tee, short sleeve tee, sweatshirt, workboots (ideally steel toed).
  3. Gloves-- (we will provide non leather ones)
  4. Sun glasses/safety goggles (we have some)
  5. Sleeping bag (pillow if you want one--yoga block works great and is smaller)
  6. Flashlight
  7. cell phone charger
  8. warm clothes to sleep in
  9. towel
  10. toiletries etc (contacts, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc)
  11. granola bars etc.  We will provide meals but we will be staying in an area with no stores open, so plan accordingly.
  12. Gym bags etc work much better than suit cases to get items in the van.

Please be sure to fill out this form (we will have copies with us as well):
            BonaResponds Volunteer Waiver Form            

BonaResponds - Driver Form--MUST BE SUBMITTED BY Monday at 2PM.
            BonaResponds - Driver Form            

If you know of others who wish to volunteer, please let them know--ESP if they do not need rides!

Other  “things”
1. It will be fun, relax
2. PLEASE follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook--these are updated several times a day.  I simply do not have time to reply to all emails. Sorry.  
3.  We may be able to arrange a ride for some of you from Buffalo/Rochester/Syracuse.  PLEASE LET US KNOW ASAP.  
4. I am very encouraged at how fast the work is going!  The job list I saw earlier in teh week is almost entirely done in the Rockaway area.  Hence we may be moving up and down the coast some (Long Beach, Breezy Point, etc).
5. The New Jersey site is not designed to be large.  It is in part a scouting  trip to see if we will be needed there over Christmas break.
6. We anticipate being able to find work for many more people than have signed up, so if you are from NYC area, please spread the word to your friends.
7. Be flexible.  I know I have said it, but it is the most important thing I can tell you.  The jobs will change with no notice.  Sometimes we will go to a job and find that we can not do it.  Or that it was done.  Be FLEXIBLE.  :)

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The show (and work) must go on!

The show must go on!  Yes there is much work to continue to go on in the NYC area (look for an announcement later today on that), but remember before Sandy hit we had a full job list both near and far, so as they say, the Show (and Work) must go on!

We will tackle some of those local jobs this Sunday.  The main job will be to install fencing to increase the number of dogs outside at the SPCA Enchanted Mountain Adoption center from 3 to 9.  This has been started (posts have been installed for the next three "dog runs" and plans for the remainder are in place.

 (prior to Sandy here is what we wrote this about it:
"BonaResponds aims always to make lasting impacts.  That is why it is always encouraging to go by a ramp that we built being used, or hearing from a family that was able to move back into their house as a result of our actions.  This weekend we started another of these far reaching jobs with the creation new dog play areas/runs at the SPCA (Enchanted Mountain Adoption Center) just North of Olean.  When we are done,  five more dogs will be able to be outside at any given time.  To someone who has not been there, it may be small, but seriously this is huge: every day, when we are out doing other things, many more dogs will be able to get out of their small kennels and be outside.  Yes it is a costly project (when this portion is complete it will have cost BonaResponds between $1000-$1500), but I have a tough time thinking of a more lasting job. (if you want to help support this by volunteering and/or donating, we'd LOVE the help!!)"

Additionally we have multiple wheelchair ramp job requests locally.  So while we are not quite ready to tackle them yet (want the SPCA finished), we will take advantage of the good weather forecast and at least frame some ramp sections made that we can move later to where we will be building the ramps.

We are also still collecting school supplies for the Spring semester in Haiti (we shipped 19 barrels and two pallets for the fall semester) and need some volunteers to:

  1. Ship out shoes to Soles4Souls.  We have hundred collected (most during the WarmSnugglyBlanket day on September 29th) but they have yet to be shipped.
  2.  Deliver the food donations to the local food pantry.
  3. If anyone is going to Rockaway from Olean area this week, we would like a small shipment of tools and some signage/forms to go to the "tool library" at Mike's on 121st.
  4. Deliver and mail out WarmSnugglyBlankets.
  5. Once the above are done, clean and organize our storage room.
  6. Chain saw training: there are a few trees on the East Side of campus that have fallen down and need to be cut up.  This is a great chance to get trained so that when disaster does strike you will be able to help with tree removal.  
Meet outside of Murphy at 11:00 on Sunday. (ok, maybe 11:02 as Jim is probably going to be late).  We will post a sign up form soon.

Update: signup form:  

Cool video (not ours) of the area we were, and will be, working in.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Update on Post Sandy Trip

Whew, what a day!  wow...where to begin.

Keep it short and to the point:

  1. After much searching, we have change plans.  We will all be going to Queens and Rockaway.  I could bore you with all the factors that went in to the decision, but the short version is that due to the enormity of the disaster and the fact that some areas are just not safe to go into yet the leaders we feel it is best that we are all together.
  2. We had an overwhelming response to the call for volunnteers  So much so that there is a waiting list and there will be more trips in the coming months. (indeed, it is quite possible that we make this our spring break trip as well.) The final list will be made tomorrow (we are waiting to see on an extra van availability, but it looks like 40 volunteers will be going. 
  3. We are staying on a gym floor at Cathedral Prep Seminary High School in Queens.  The address is  56-25 92nd Street Elmhurst NY 11373.  We will be arriving there about 1:30 AM on Friday. Most of the work will be in Rockaway for this trip.
  4. This is a serious trip.  We will be going into active disaster zones.  All volunteers have to act accordingly.  We cannot be a burden on our hosts or in the areas where we will be working.  Our goal is to be as self-sufficient as possible.  This means carrying in food, water, and supplies to the greatest degree possible.  As a result, this is not going to be fancy.  Breakfasts will likely be cereal, lunch and maybe dinner will probably be sandwiches.  If you can bring snack foods (granola bars etc) I think you will be glad you did. (of course this may change but better prepare for the worst and be pleasantly surprised than the other way around!)
  5. We have been in contact with various people on the ground (including Ryan a SBU senior who lost his house in Rockaway) and there is a wide array of work ahead of us: gutting, clean up, and tree cutting.   This makes planning and travel more difficult as we will have to take a large number of tools (pumps, saws, gutting equipment, and even generators and power strips).  
  6.  Departures:  Approx 7pm on Thursday and 4:30 PM on Friday.   Travel together whenever possible.  It is not a race.  We get there and back safely is the most important thing.  
  7. Travel in and around NYC is always bad and made worse by the lack of subways, trains, many roads, and even traffic lights.  So, to the degree possible, we are not going to travel main routes at peak times.  Also the area is reporting gas shortages.  So we will fill-up over 100 miles out of NYC.  This SHOULD give us enough gas to get in and out of the disaster region without using their very limited supply.
  8. There is a mandatory meeting at 6 PM on Thursday for all who are going.  It will be quite short.  It will be in Murphy (I hope).  By then everyone should have paid and signed the form (yes even if you did it before, do it again!) No exceptions. 
  9. When working we must all wear BonaResponds shirts (free to all who pay the $20 to go for gas etc) Or sweatshirts (they cost $30).  They will be a good means of instant recognition and since there are not yet badges for volunteers (that may change by Saturday), the BonaResponds shirt will serve as a means of letting police and others know we are helping.
  10. Dress for dirty conditions and dress for the cold.  Flood cleanup is wet.  Plan accordingly.
  11. You must wear boots.  This is for your own safety.  Given many of you have not been wearing boots, past experience suggests wearing two pairs of socks for the first few days really cuts down on blisters.
  12. We will be sleeping on a gym floor in sleeping bags.  If you do not have access to a sleeping bag, there are a very few available on campus.  In fact, we may not even have room to take any, so plan on sleeping on the floor or bring a small pad.  Space will be at a premium.All of the above may be wrong. Really.  In disasters things change very quickly and that makes planning both necessary and impossible.  So plan on plans changing.  Be flexible, patient, and remember we are going to help. 
  13. A big thank you to all of you who helped today.  There were a few times I was about to go crazy, so thank you all, but especially: Ryan, Tim, Tony, Ray, Frankie, Greg, Brenden, Jen M., Nate, Jen S., Shane, Allie P.,  and Rob. 

If you would like to help but can't go, each trip will cost us about $500 in gas, over $200 in breathing masks, $100 for gloves, $500 in food, and $300 in equipment (yes we have much but it does break with heavy usage).  So we are talking over $1600 for each trip (more for longer ones).   Thus any monetary donation would be a great help!  You can donate by specifying that you select BonaResponds as the recipient at http://bonaresponds.org/donate.html.  THANK YOU! 
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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

BonaResponds Hurricane Sandy Sign up form

BonaResponds will be going to the NYC/NJ area THIS WEEKEND.   While many details are still being worked out, we will be giving priority to those from SBU (current students and alumni) whose homes were damaged by the hurricane.  Current plans are that one van will leave Thursday (late evening) and head to NYC, on Friday late afternoon a second van will head to New Jersey.  (again details and specifics still being worked out)  The work will be pretty hard and dirty.  The cost of the trip is $20 paid to Jen Spencer on the second floor of Murphy.  The money covers food while in camp and on the job, gas, and a t-shirt.  Also the waiver must be signed and given to her then (she has copies).    To sign up YOU MUST fill out this form:

For those who have never been to a disaster zone before, here are some things you should bring:

    A good attitude
    Work clothes (jeans, long sleeve tee, short sleeve tee, sweatshirt, workboots (ideally steel toed).
    Gloves--leather is best IMO (we will provide some, but our are not as good as the leather ones.)
    Sun glasses/safety goggles-needed for gutting houses and tree work.
    Sleeping bag (pillow/yoga block/etc)
    cell phone charger
    warm clothes to sleep in
    toiletries etc (contacts, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc)
    water bottle and snack food. (there will likely be no stores in the areas we will be working).

We will be taking portable generators so will have at least the ability to charge cell phones if there is no power. 

Two important reminders: 1. you must have a GPA of over 2.0 to attend.  2. Please do not skip classes to leave early.

for more information please follow our twitter account @BonaResponds and/or like our Facebook page.  Updates will be forthcoming during the next few days as uncertainties resolve themselves. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Top 9 update

Hi everyone,

Just a fast update on multiple topics:

  1. While hoping for the best, we are preparing to respond if needed to Sandy.  Look for a possible Friday to Sunday response this week.   It will be a challenge given classes and overall busyness (school and work really can be inconvenient at times).  Stay tuned.
  2. BonaResponds aims always to make lasting impacts.  That is why it is always encouraging to go by a ramp that we built being used, or hearing from a family that was able to move back into their house as a result of our actions.  This weekend we started another of these far reaching jobs with the creation new dog play areas/runs at the SPCA (Enchanted Mountain Adoption Center) just North of Olean.  When we are done,  five more dogs will be able to be outside at any given time.  To someone who has not been there, it may be small, but seriously this is huge: every day, when we are out doing other things, many more dogs will be able to get out of their small kennels and be outside.  Yes it is a costly project (when this portion is complete it will have cost BonaResponds between $1000-$1500), but I have a tough time thinking of a more lasting job. (if you want to help support this by volunteering and/or donating, we'd LOVE the help!!)
  3. Ramp update: we have finished 4 ramps so far in October (5 if you count a small one we did in Camden).  This is great news as it means more people can get in and out of their house.  As with all things there is a learning curve and we are getting much better at the ramps: what used to take us 3 or 4 days is often down to one day.  This of course adds to our expenses (and another reason we need monetary donations).  Cost of ramp is about $18 per inch of height (so for a typical 5 step porch, the ramp costs about $650 or so (throw in volunteer food and gas and it is about $700).  We were again reminded of the importance of the ramps however as an upcoming ramp recipient told us she is stuck in her house until we can build it but when that happens she is going to get a motorized wheelchair that will allow her to leave the house. 
  4. The SPCA work has been going very well under the leadership of Matt O'Connell.  From walking dogs to painting to installing new fences, BonaResponds volunteers (with the Help of Cuba-Rushford's Teen Leadership program) have really come to the aid of the animals.   We are looking for a used minivan to further this new division of BonaResponds.  You can like the FB page devoted to BonaResponds for SPCA in Cattauragus County here
  5. A possible winter break trip is in the works, but much depends on a. volunteers-we had very few sign up for our Fall Break trip  b. Sandy c. Finances (we are getting too low for comfort).
  6. The shipments of school supplies, medical equipment, etc have arrived in Haiti.  Over 64 pallets have now been shipped!
  7. The winter coats we collected on Warm SnugglyBlanket day (September 29th) have been taken to the Little Portion Homeless Shelter in Buffalo.
  8. International Service Day has become International Service WEEK!  Why?  Because many people who wanted to be involved had plans on the specific day.  So we expended it to a full 8 day week!  From April 6- April 14th: all we ask is that you help others and then report back in with what you did.  BonaResponds' alumni, SBU alumni, or whoever you are.  Just plan on doing something to help!
  9.  As you may be able to tell from reading this, we are getting very low on money.  It has never been a worry of mine, but of late it is troubling.  I have personally put in several thousand dollars since summer and am not sure how long I can continue that.  So if you are interesting in making a profound difference in the lives of many people, please consider donating. 

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Thursday, October 04, 2012

Location for Camden trip

Departure time: 3:45 from lot near Maintenance. We will be staying at the Francis House at St. Anthony of Padua • 2818 River Ave, Camden, NJ 08105

Work will vary but includes a ramp, moving a storage shed, and more.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sign up for our Camden NJ Fall Break trip

Camden NJ is the destination for the 2012 Fall Break trip for BonaResponds.  The trips are always highlights of what we do and we'd love to have you with us!  It will be fun!

You get a t-shirt, food when at the site, transportation, and a place to stay.  And you get the chance to help make other people a bit better off.   At least one night we will go to sightseeing in Philadelphia. 

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Camden named most impoverished | Courier-Post | courierpostonline.com

As announced this AM, BonaResponds will be going to Camden for fall Break (Leaving late on Friday Oct 5, returning evening of Oct 9), come with us!

Camden named most impoverished | Courier-Post | courierpostonline.com:

Why?  There is a huge need: from today's news:

"New statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau show that Camden has the dubious distinction of being the country’s most-impoverished city.

The Bureau estimates that 42.5 percent of the people live below the poverty line in Camden, based on 2011 figures...."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September 29th is coming soon! Get involved

We now have over 70 volunteers signed up, but need more!  Sign up at BonaResponds.org

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pictures from this weekend

Here are some pictures from this weekend: 

Saturday in Wellsville:

Sunday in Arcade:

Making a difference, that is what is fun. A metaphor from walking Bonnie this AM

 The idea that BonaResponds is a "weekend job" annoys me.  Yeah the idea of a "job" sort of annoys me, but what is really bugging me is the term "weekend".

Indeed clocks and calendars annoy me in general.  For instance, if I am a finance student from 2:30 to 3:45, does that mean I don't learn at 10:15?  Or if I go to yoga class and learn to be at peace at 6 PM, does it not mean that same peacefulness shouldn't be there at 11:30 on a Wednesday?  Of course not.  Facebook status updates of "only 5 more days til the weekend" etc grate at me. They suggest that the poster can only be happy on the "weekend". 

The same is true with BonaResponds.  Yes BonaResponds is an organization (and a great one at that!) that works almost every weekend, but it is more than that, it is a mindset and a way of life:

A mindset that says

 "I will make the world a bit better not because it is my job, or I get pecuniary benefits, but simply because I can and I get personal enjoyment out of it."

Thus, it is thrilling and rewarding to hear of BonaResponds leaders telling how they help local blood drives, or organize recycling activities, or a beach clean up, or tutor in an after school program on a "weekday".  (Infinitely more thrilling than hearing how they are only coming to volunteer because it is a class requirement).

At any given point of time,  I often have no idea what day it is.  Seriously.  What difference does it make?  Life is pretty simple: Wake up, work/play, eat, sleep.

From this prospective work and play are pretty much the same thing.

Need collaborating evidence?  Jenn who worked on the ramp we helped build in Wellsville this past weekend commented on the picture from the day:  "Fun, fun, fun day".   Is that describing work?  Play?   

Making a difference.  That is what is fun.

 It is true for anything.  Be it teaching the Black-Scholes Option Pricing model, working at the Allegany Park and Shop, or climbing through a flooded basement, I love doing each of them, but only when making a positive difference.  

It is how I TRY to live.  You can come at this via religion ( "Love thy neighbor") or finance (create positive economic value) or psychology (Oxytocin, which is released when helping others, improves personal well being).

This is not some great new break through.  It has been around for thousands of years.  Indeed it is in the bible which was written even before I first learned of the concept of EVA (Economic Value Added) in college.  As in all roads lead to Rome, whatever path you take, you will likely come to the same conclusion:

 Live in a way that you are on net a giver/contributor.  Definite yourself as a positive Net Present Value project and have a positive Economic Value Added.  

This goal is removed from any organization.  Indeed, it holds for all situations.  If as an employee I am earning $10 an hour, I should strive to make $11 an hour for the company.  If a volunteer, I want to make the world better for the person being helped at a rate more than the combined cost of services and opportunity cost of my time to volunteer.

And before I hear from an angry reader who says there is more to life than dollars and cents, let me make myself clear that properly understood economics is about much more than dollars and cents.  You want to be a net contributor to, rather than a draw from, society. 

Which brings us to this morning's walk.  One of the "weekend jobs" BonaResponds frequently does is to do street clean ups.  Thus, I have taken to picking up garbage while out walking Bonnie.

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a "morning person" so when we left the house I had not planned to pick up garbage (and hence had not grabbed a garbage bag).  But early in the walk when I saw a bottle on the curb I picked it up, and then another, and soon my hands were full and there was still quite a walk to do.

As we got a bit further there was a bag in the street.  YES!  I could pick up more garbage. 

Pretty soon the bag was filled to over heaping (it was a small bag).

Oh well, "Better not perfect" (a common BonaResponds mantra) went through my mind.  But wait, just as Bonnie and I turned to finish the walk, a larger bag presented itself wrapped around a bush.

It was a good walk. 


Take what you want from the story, but my three "take-aways" are:

  1. BonaResponds is more than an organization, it is a mindset and a way of life.  
  2. When you want to do something good, start out even if you don't know how you will accomplish it.  Usually what you need just sort of appears as you need it.   
  3. When you are making a difference, even picking up garbage can be fun.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Jim's 9-11-12 Message

I wrote the following on Facebook today.  But as there were some typos and I wanted to share it with a greater community, I am also going to post it here.  
Never forgotten. <3
"So many, lost so much on that Tuesday morning. Many of us lost friends or family. Others lost a co-worker, a role model, or even just someone they saw on the subway. The casualty lists document the lives lost, but miss those many many more who were injured (both physically and mentally).

Over the next few days the world came together and grieved but a form of innocence (along with many freedoms) had been lost. In many ways, both tangible as well as intangible, we are all still feeling the affects of the four planes so cowardly turned into guided missiles. I encourage you all to not forget those who died that fateful day in NYC,, Washington, and aboard Flight 93, and also all those many thousands who lost in other ways here at home and in far away places in the eleven years following the terrorist attacks. The suicide victim, the first responder who succumbed to cancer, soldiers in harm's way, as well as the innocent bystanders of a drone attack are no less victims just because their deaths happened in a time and place distant from the initial attacks.

We can't bring the people back, but we can honor their memory. Doing so entails more than sharing a cool picture or a quote via social media, it means being social to all people, it means making the world a little bit better.

All the talk in the world will only go so far.. Prayers and good intentions are nice but generally won't solve the problems so many are facing. Be the best person you can be: go do something tangible to make the world better for it is in doing so, we will really be honoring those affected by September 11, 2001.

Amy O'Doherty, Mychal Judge, Rob Peraza and the many many others, I have no idea if you can see it or not, but there will be one block cleaned of garbage and broken bottles behind the old Boardmanville Elementary School today. It's not much, but it is my small contribution to your legacy."

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

What can we (you) do to help the SPCA

A punch in the stomach.  That is what it felt like yesterday morning when I read the Niagara Falls Reporter story on the Cattaraugus  County SPCA.

It felt so for several reasons.  First, and most importantly, because I hate to see animals suffer.  And if the story is true, it is too much to stomach.

The second reason for the instant stomach ache was that BonaResponds has worked there many many times and I know and like many of the people and the animals there.  I don't want them to be hurt.  The workers all care greatly about animals and do a thankless job.

Having been there many times, I should first say that I have not seen anything as bad as was reported by the Niagara Falls Reporter.

  (Warning: you seriously do not want to click through.  It was that bad.)

The video that accompanies the article is here:

Slow Kill at Cattaraugus County SPCA (Olean, New York). THIS IS NOT NO KILL - YouTube

Immediately upon reading the article, we (Jim) emailed the SPCA laying out some steps that we can do to help.  However, and this is a HUGE however, we can only help if we get volunteers.


"I was very sorry to see the article from Niagara Falls Reporter this AM. If you have not seen it I apologize for being the bearer of bad news.  It is a horrible story. Indeed it turned my stomach.   

Although the below suggestions may appear to be critical, it is truly not my intention.  I am looking at the SPCA through the eyes of someone who cares about animals, sees things as a business person, and has been to the SPCA often, so please trust me that I am not trying to be critical, just trying to help. 

The article is troubling on many levels and I am sure they were looking for the worst and it only takes one "source" to have things blown up.  That said, there appears to be problems (size of facility etc) [and many of these things we have discussed before].  But I will also ask, how can BonaResponds help? 

It is such a huge task and you are doing great work, but constantly getting bad press for it.  It really is a thankless job you all have.
Clearly these ideas may  not all be possible, wanted, or even needed but they are things I have been thinking for a while to make it easier up there for you all and I would feel guilty if I did not mention them to you.

[Our] ideas: 

1. More vet coverage surely costs money [and I know you are always short of money.  Perhaps this story may be good if it gets people to donate more and I am not sure how we could help with this as we depend on donations ourselves], although the marketing intern might help.  I would encourage you to reach out to....the internship program for the School of Business. (Mike Kasperski's email address deleted)

2. Put up new fences for increased outside play area.  Have a gate to allow an "alley way" between areas on each side.  Eyeballing it, could increase play areas to at least 6 and improve efficiency in getting dogs in and out of their kennels. This would allow the dogs more outside time and also make it easier on your employees freeing up their time for other jobs.

3. Aforementioned boardwalk on the North side of the building (or maybe even just clearing and using gravel to allow the area to be used (cheaper--not as nice but cheaper).  This makes it less stressful for dogs and volunteers (maybe get more dog walkers to come?) I spoke with manager at Home Depot this week and they are interested in helping.  Also I spoke with a person who has a bull dozer who said he could spread gravel to make a path with pipes underneath to allow any water flow easier flow.

4. [Starting a] daily volunteer program (NOT BonaResponds--we simply do not have the time, but we can get a volunteer to help get it started and I am sure some will help on an ongoing basis--some of our leaders were there this weekend walking dogs in fact) to have more people sign up and take a single day a month of walking dogs for an hour or so.  Even an ad campaign to start this. Have dog walking times posted outside, online, and even in the paper.   Have some in the [morning] for people who work, and then after work as well.

5. Thinking longer term, Kitty Kingdom seems to me (and by no means am I an expert at all on this) too crowded?  Maybe convert some of the barn, or put up a new shed that could take washer-dryer-food space to increase room in the building? A capital campaign build around a video of current overcrowding would surely raise enough money for a small expansion?

6. Easier entrance. Sounds silly, but volunteers are already nervous to be out of their environment and then to approach down a bumpy one lane road can be stressful and may deter some.

I know you are all overworked up there and have next to no money, and these suggestions are not to be critical, [rather] just some ideas I had this summer when up there. 

To emphasize the enormity of your task (and seriously not to add to them), I have had two calls from a woman who is 81 years old and feeding 20 cats.  She is very worried it is too much for her and feels awful about it, but does not know what to do.  She can't let them starve.  Her friend (who called) was about crying on the phone with her sense of powerlessness.  Any ideas? 

Thanks, sorry, and good luck.  We will help in anyway we can.  I hope this email is not seen as criticism.  It is not meant to be.




In the past 25 hours, we have had talks with student BonaResponds leaders as well as alumni.  To a person we want to help.  Matt, a Junior Marketing major, has taken the reigns and is helping to organize a group of BonaResponds volunteers that will make twice a month trips to the SPCA to walk dogs.  With SPCA permission we will also help extend the walking program to make it easier for people to do this on a regular basis.

On September 29th as part of our WarmSnugglyBlanket/Collection day we will be collecting cat litter for the SPCA (that was stated as their biggest need last week).  Also we will help get them a marketing intern to help with adoptions and fund raising.

However, these programs can not happen without the support of you all.  Get involved.  Stop in at the SPCA and walk dogs, adopt a cat, have your animals spayed and neutered.  

To get started, we will have a very short BonaResponds meeting devoted to the SPCA initiatives on Thursday (tomorrow) at 4:30 in Murphy.  All are invited.

Friday, August 24, 2012

September 29th Blanket Making and Collection Day

On September 29th BonaResponds will be hosting its first ever Blanket Making and Collection Day.  The day will be done with the help of WarmSnugglyBlanket, LiveStrong, and Soles4Souls.  The goal of the day, like that of all BonaResponds Days, is simple: To help.

WarmSnugglyBlanket is a part of BonaResponds whose main aim is to help people with cancer.  It was started to honor the late Marge Mahar who, previous to losing her battle with Breast Cancer this past spring, had wanted to help those in their own personal battles with cancer.  

The blanket idea came out of an experience that Marge had during her final weeks when she had trouble sleeping.  She shared that, as she sat on her bed coughing and worrying, she thought about all of the people who had reached out to her from all around the world to let her know that they were praying for her. She felt fortunate to have so many people supporting her in her fight, and she decided to pray for all of those people who were praying for her.  Marge later described how, as she did this, she immediately felt warmed and relaxed, as if she were wrapped in a “warm snuggly blanket.”  When talking about this experience, Marge expressed her wish to help others fighting cancer to feel the warmth and support that she did.  Through the work of BonaResponds and Villa Marie’s Villa Volunteers, Marge’s idea of helping people with cancer has been realized.  The blankets will serve as a constant reminder that the recipients are not alone in their struggles against cancer. Already, blankets have been distributed via Roswell’s Kevin Guest House and to individuals across the US who have cancer.  The efforts of volunteers on September 29th will help further this cause.

In addition to making the blankets there will be multiple collections to expand the reach of those who would like to help.  We will be collecting:

  1. Winter coats for homeless shelters in Western New York (Buffalo primarily).
  2. School supplies (partially used notebooks, pens, pencils, calculators, and small toys) that will be distributed in the US as well as in Haiti.  
  3. Musical instruments and sheet music for a school on Gonaives Haiti.  
  4. Lighter coats and sweaters for the Loaves and Fishes homeless shelter in Harlingen Texas where BonaResponds worked this summer.
  5. New or gently worn shoes for the Soles4Souls program that distributes shoes around the world.  
  6. Writing letters and or Christmas cards for both US military personnel overseas as well as local nursing home residents.
  7. Canned food for local food pantries.
  8. Pet supplies (especially cat litter) for the SPCA.  

For those unable to make it to the day but want to help, physical donations (including home made blankets) can be dropped off at 231 Murphy Hall or at the Allegany Park and Shop.  Additionally monetary donations are gladly accepted by Mail (BonaResponds Box BY St. Bonaventure NY 14778) or on the donation tab at BonaResponds.org.

While BonaResponds is a part of St. Bonaventure University, all of its projects are open to the public and you do not need to have a tie to St. Bonaventure to participate.   This project is especially well-suited for families, classes, church groups, and other schools to be involved.

This service day will be held in the San Damiano Room in Francis Hall on the east side of campus.  There are two shifts: 10:00 to 1:00 and 1:30 to 4:30.  Please sign up at BonaResponds.org