Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday of Spring Break 2012

Great and productive day here in Greenville, South Carolina!

Work began bright and early again at 7:30 on St. Anthony of Padua's Convent House. Xavier and Gilbert finished up scraping paint off the beautiful staircase. This will really add a lot to the beauty of the interior. Jack worked with Gowanda Jim extensively on dry-walling and mudding the second floor. With one more coat of mud tomorrow and sanding, most of the second floor should be ready for paint Friday. Phil worked exclusively with Dave from SC on installing electrical sockets and light fixtures today.

The group worked until 3:30 this afternoon. Then they got cleaned up and headed to Eastminster Presbyterian Church ( in Simpsonville for dinner. This wonderful church hosted our volunteers last Spring Break. Their space includes a gym and full size kitchen. It was wonderful spending time with the people of the church tonight! They put on a spread of assorted Mexican cuisine as we shared stories of BonaResponds. After the dinner we joined the church members for a wonderful vespers gathering which included scripture readings, video, and song. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable evening! This congregation has been so open to our organization and we look forward to keeping in touch with them in the future!

More updates to follow tomorrow! There is still a lot of work to complete!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spring Break 2012

Greetings from Greenville South Carolina!

BonaResponds is at it again here in SC helping out St. Anthony of Padua's Parish and School. We have been here before Winter Break 2010 and Spring Break 2011.

Work is in full swing down here already. We arrived after a 15 hour drive Saturday (arriving Sunday morning around 11am). St. Anthony's held a ground breaking ceremony on Sunday afternoon for their brand new and much deserved elementary school. Pretty much as soon as we got out of the van we got to work setting up 400 hundred chairs for the ceremony.

The new school will include a full size gym. Currently the children have no gym and are restricted to playing in the field adjacent to the school. On rainy days the kids have to remain in doors. But with the new school there will be guaranteed physical activity daily.

The ceremony included speeches by local dignitaries, clergy, and Father Pat Tuttle. Fr. Pat is a Franciscan friar who spent a couple years at St. Bonaventure about 10 years ago. He is very full of life and the children and community adore him. He specifically thanked BonaResponds in his speech for clearing over 100 trees on the site of the school last Spring.

After the ground breaking, there was a gathering at the school cafeteria for the community. It was astounding how many people came up and told us their connection to Bonaventure or Olean. After the get-together was ended we had a pow-wow with Fr. Pat to outline jobs for the week.

Monday morning we got to work bright and early at the school. We cleared branches hanging over the children's garden. The chainsaw was roaring and the saws were buzzing! After about three hours we had a 6 foot pile made. This garden received an award for best elementary school grown garden from Clemeson University last year. Surely with the branches cleared the garden will blossom even more this year!

Then we lendws a helping hand with the convent behind the church. Three sisters and one in-training live at this house. In the beginnings of the parish, this house also served as the first school. Five gentlemen from the church have been working on the house for the past month. Repairs include anywhere from drywall to electrical to window work. Each of our volunteers have done their fair share of all of those mentioned activities the past two days!

We meld well with the older gentlemen working on the house. They have a lot to teach us and enjoy our company. Stu, the "foreman", proclaimed our group is a "god-send". He told us we blow any other college group that has come to help them out of the water (as our reputation goes!)

Today (Tuesday) we had a little picnic lunch behind the friary. Phil grilled up some delicious chicken. The menu also included mac salad, potato salad, and of course CHEETOS! Everyone enjoyed the meal very much.

Tonight we visited Greenville's finest BBQ joint: Henry's Smokehouse. A must visit if you are ever in Greenville!

Afterwards we met up with Fr. Pat, Fr. Dave, and one of the school's interns. We talked about the mission of St. Anthony's and then took a ride in Fr. Pat's "hoopty bus". Full size bus with a rockin' sound system! Fr. Pat took us out for frozen yogurt at Yogurt Mountian. It was awesome!

Well it is getting late and we have a 7:30 start at the site. More updates tomorrow!

For trip updates throughout the day check out Phil's twitter: @phillybp

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Make a fast commerical for BonaResponds

I'd say we'd give you a prize for the best one, but we probably won't since we want all of our money to go to helping people, but we will say thank you!  And we will send you stickers and a BonaResponds wrist band! 

Rules: less than a minutes, no practice, no editing.  Should take less than 2 minutes total (and that includes emailing the video to!)

Phil went first:

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

A thank you from Jody

A few weekends ago we helped Jody over in Ellicottville.  He sent us the following:

Dear Folks:
 I would like to take this opportunity to extend a very heartfelt "Thank You" to Jim Mahar and his crew members for the dedicated work they performed in building the stair and deck safety railings in my facility.....
I have battled severe Crohn's disease since 1985(my small intestine was resected in 1990), and have had two strokes. I do not "mobile" well.
 My thoughts and prayers will continually follow this fine group of people who put their time into helping those who are aging and cannot normally function on a daily basis.

Radio Interview about International Service Day

Today's interview (Jim was interviewed by Casey Hill of WVTT) about our March 31st International Service Day.

Listen here (Html5)

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or if you prefer flash:

Thursday, February 02, 2012

International Service Day Letter

I wrote this for a friend but after writing it I got thinking, I have lots of friends and I would like to have you all involved, so I will post it for you all....I hope you get involved. Big job or small job, you will have fun and make the world a better place! (March 31 is a Saturday)

I have a favor....(and feel free to say no) you may or may not know each year BonaResponds does an international service day on the last Saturday in March. We ask people around the globe to help others and then share what they did. We are putting the responses (pictures, audio, video, and words) together into a reflection page showing people around the world doing good deeds.

The purpose is multifaceted:

1. To help those who need the help.
2. To show that "people are people" where ever they are and not some group of radicals deserving of hate and criticism that is all too often shown in the media.
3. To show that problems are not insurmountable. Together we can solve them. Alone they are too big for any of us.
4. That there are many many people wanting to do good and help others but that too often their actions are unknown and we each feel like we our own efforts are meaningless (hence the importance of sharing the good deeds after the work is done and not just doing them).
5. To remind everyone that we all have some skills that can be used to help others.
6. To have fun.

Currently we have some big projects lined up (Dallas, Chicago, Buffalo, Haiti, Orange County California) and many many small ones (San Diego, England, Pakistan, MAYBE Afghanistan, Ghana, Uganda, Belize, Burkina Faso, Seattle, I think Australia, I think India, I think Cambodia, etc.)

I was wondering if you could help spread the message and help recruit some of your friends to get involved.

It can be big or small. Some of my favorite jobs in the past have been a couple cleaning up the road by their house, another couple baking a birthday cake for a lonely man in a nursing home, to a former student taking her neighbor shopping.

The ways to share the day will be given out as the date approaches (Saturday March 31).

And it really does not need to be a major undertaking but we'd love to have you involved.

thanks for any and all assistance...


there is a sign-up form at and much more information will be forthcoming in the coming weeks.