Thursday, March 29, 2012

Local events for International Service Day (THIS SATURDAY!)

While we lost some momentum since I have been more or less gone from BR for 6 weeks trying to nurse my mother back to health (it was in vain as she died of complications of Breast Cancer last week), there are still many jobs going on this weekend, and we hope you get involved!

Remember the basic idea: where ever you are, go help someone!  Big or small.  It does not matter.
After you are done, share the day with others.

How to share

Pictures/short videos: 

  • Can be uploaded to flickr (Bona_Responds) (ask for password: or if you have signed up, we will send it to you)
  • Shared via FB (PLEASE SET THEM TO "PUBLIC" for viewing and Tag Bona Responds).  This is not quite as good since many people are not "friends" with us, but many are, so if this is easier feel free to use it...just set them to public :)
  •  Pictures/videos can be emailed to


Do you prefer to write? Maybe want to write a summary of the day, or something deeper as to how it affected you?  Or how it helped those in need?  Send us an email to and we will share it (and give you credit) on our blog. 


Often the most fun way is to call it in.  We will record all messages and share them with others.  Most like a post work day meeting!  the new number (we JUST got it this AM) is 716-2-BONA-13   
(716) 226-6213

I will not go into the projects except to say that locally (in Western New York) we need volunteers very badly.  




We will be meeting at Villa Maria College at 10:00 AM and going out to various jobs.  Jobs include: Vive le Casa, St. Luke's Mission, Kevin Guest house (Roswell Park Cancer Institute), and the Bob Lanier Center. 

Vans leave from SBU (Murphy) at 8:30 on Saturday AM for these jobs)


While there are others being run by other groups, the two big local jobs in need of volunteers are: 
 1. Painting and more at the new Cattaraugus Mental Health Association.  This is a very big job.  Meet at 10:00 in Murphy (we need cars/drivers).  It is at 121 N Union in Olean if you would prefer to meet there. 

2. Clean up at the Children's Memorial Garden and Gazebo area at Franchot Part to run from 11-2:00 on Saturday, the 31st. We'd ask everyone to have work gloves and bring racks, shovels or brooms if they have these available.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Laura's dad's article from Olean Times Herald

I waited to post it since I did not want to reduce OTH sales, but it is so good that I had to share and it is not on their

" By the time you read this, we will be back in the United States getting ready for church on Sunday, but my wife and I have spent the past two weeks in Central America.  We have been visiting our daughter who is a Peace Corps volunteer in the nation of Belize (on the Caribbean coast bordering Mexico and Guatemala.  For those of you who grew up prior to the 1980’s (when Belize became independent) you probably learned about it in Geography or Social Studies class as British Honduras. 
It is the smallest country in Central America (about the size of Vermont) and it has the approximate population of Buffalo.  It is also the only nation in Central America where English is not only commonly spoken, it is the national language.  That is one of the factors that makes Belize a popular tourist destination for Americans (although we found tourists here from many countries across the globe during our journey).
            The people of Belize are extraordinarily friendly and welcoming.  When I got sunburned our first day here, several people who were strangers to us went out of their way to offer helpful advice on how to treat it.  Word also spread quickly throughout the community where we stayed that I am a Pastor.  In the course of a friendly conversation I was asked one time how I made a living and from that time forward as I walked down the street various merchants would greet me by saying, “Good Morning Pastor!” or “Good afternoon Pastor!”  One wanted me to know that he is a believer and another even asked me for a Bible.
As you might expect, the religious beliefs here are somewhat diverse due to the history of Mayan and Garifuna cultures, but Catholic and Evangelical Protestant Christianity predominate.  The school where my daughter has focused most of her attention in the small village of Barranco in very rural southern Belize is a Roman Catholic school.  Classes on the Christian faith are taught every day there and in one classroom a permanent display of art work depicting key stories from the Old and New Testaments hung on the wall.
There were several things that we experienced here that reminded us of things we take for granted in our lives stateside.  Dietary choices are much more limited here, and many things that are part of our common diets (like beef and cheese) are prohibitively expensive.  The roads outside the more urban areas are not paved and extremely rough.  Traffic enforcement comes primarily through speed bumps when the roads are paved and law enforcement (including the court system) is widely criticized.  Nevertheless, the upcoming election has captivated the country.  Groups of campaign volunteers were commonly seen on the streets and we heard several animated political conversations during our time here.
Our daughter (Laura) grew up in Baptist churches before attending St. Bonaventure University (graduating in 2009) where she was deeply impressed by the Franciscan values she learned there.  Her strong involvement in “BonaResponds” played a key role in her decision to join the Peace Corps.  Of course the Peace Corps is a government organization so her involvement here has not been religious but I suspect the religious values she picked up along the way have a lot to do with her motives for serving here. 
In a world where Americans are commonly thought of as “ugly”, selfish and arrogant she has made a strong positive impression on her community and has helped make one rural school a better place to learn by improving the library and suggesting more modern educational techniques.  The 14 days we spent here were certainly an education for us as well! 
Fortunately none of us have to leave the country to make a difference.  Check out to learn even more about how volunteers from our community are changing lives all the time."

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Jim's Thanks and BonaResponds' updates:

Here is the link to the whole thing:

First let me say this is part BonaResponds' update/newsletter and part Jim's observations on various things that have BonaResponds ties:

Jim's Musings:

I feel remarkably fortunate to have as many family, friends and acquaintances who have asked about, prayed for, and sent emails, cards, and even flowers to my mom.  She would love to thank you each personally but right now it is too much.

How is she?  She is doing better! :)   Her strength is improving (indeed I had her lifting and even doing modified push-ups today!) and she is eating like a champion (must be the cooking!) Her lung capacity is getting better but not as fast as we'd like, but as she would teach (she is a Latin Teacher)" Rome was not built in a day".  Her mantra has not changed one bit: "Pray, Fight, Win!" and win she will!

And I will add for her: Thank you to each and every one of you.  Your support means more than you will ever know.

Along those lines, a few observations:

1. My mom’s cancer made me even more sure that BonaResponds is important, indeed more important than we can easily measure.  Intuitively at first and by almost constant empirical reminders since, I am reminded that the most important thing that Bona Responds does is not the physical work, not the ramp building, not the storm clean up, or even rebuilding.  The most important thing that the volunteers do is to bring hope and a reminder that people care.  I have no way of valuing that, but going through this has made me more convinced than ever that BonaResponds plays a very important role.

2. While the physical work that BonaResponds does may be less important than the hope it brings, the work is still often critically important.  Something that is almost an afterthought can make a huge difference in the quality of life for others.  A personal example?  The hand rail that we put up at my mom's made getting upstairs much easier in the first week when she really needed it.  It was hugely important to her.  It took us about 10 minutes to install.  Never confuse value with time or money spent.  They are often very different.

3. "Walk a mile in my shoes" should be stressed more.  I will work on it for future BonaResponds' events.  I do not know how yet, but getting volunteers (and myself as well) to see the project through the eyes of those being helped will make even seemingly unimportant jobs, difference makers.

Other observations:

* Jobs are lining up nicely for International Service Day (March 31)...I heard today from Rob Ryer who is planning an event in Baltimore.  In recent days I have also heard from Bill Hammond in Dallas, Laura McDowell in Belize, and Carrie Jackling in Burkino Faso.  There will be events in Chicago, DC, Rochester, Buffalo, Seattle, Orange County California, Alabama, New Jersey, Ireland, and many many other places.  Plan on being involved.  Even a small project will help make the world a better place.  (jobs in Olean include working at the Olean-Bradford Area YMCA, the  SPCA, and the MentalHealth CattaraugusCounty.  And maybe more.  Stay tuned.  The big group of us will be working with Kim and Villa Volunteers in Buffalo.


Here is the link to the whole thing: