Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Want a friend? Want to help Haiti? Now you can do both!

Map of Haiti
Map of Haiti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We are very happy to announce our penpal program with schools in Haiti!  It is a great opportunity to meet people in another country while also helping teach English to those in Haiti.

So far we have 8 schools signed up in Haiti (in Leogane and Gonaivies).  This is very exciting and something EVERYONE can do.  It takes only a few minutes and will bring much joy to both you and the person you are writing to!

If the below "embed" does not work, the actual document is here:

to sign up:

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Getting ready for the trip

Rob playing with the Boys
Rob playing with the Boys (Photo credit: FinanceProfessor)
As you know BonaResponds is heading back to Breezy Point this weekend.  We have had many requests about what to bring etc (more than any trip since 2006 I would guess--not sure why).  So here is my guide to a BonaResponds trip.

Thank you for coming to help others with BonaResponds.  This is a fast guide to what to expect, what to bring, etc.

First of all, there will be very little “schedule”.  We are going to help.  That is often all we know.  But it will work out.  There will be many smart people and we are flexible so we can respond to changes and unforeseen events.  (Trust us, planning for these trips is close to impossible.  Too many unknowns.  The only known things is that we will help.  You will help.  And it will be a great trip.)

While every trip is different, the following is a pretty good guide to the “What Should I bring” question:

  1. A good attitude--far and away the most important.  Preplanning is next to impossible (number of volunteers change, jobs change, work changes) so go with it.  We are going to help.  That won’t change.
  2. Work clothes (jeans, long sleeve tee, short sleeve tee, sweatshirt, work boots (ideally steel toed).
  3. Gloves--leather is best IMO (we do provide lightweight gloves, but you may want to bring your own.
  4. Sun glasses/safety goggles--again we have some, but not “most fashionable”  lol.  
  5. Sleeping bag  (We do have 3 or 4 sleeping bags available on a first come, first serve basis--and we have cots.  A pillow maybe too-yoga block works great and is smaller)
  6. Flashlight, GPS (we seemingly never have ours!)
  7. cell phone charger
  8. digital camera (Phones often run out of battery!)
  9. Towel
  10. toiletries etc (contacts, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc)
  11. water bottle
  12. Sun block
  13. granola bars, fruit, etc.  

We will have tools and cots.  Food is included once we are working, but honestly, you probably want to bring food you like too and maybe some spending money as we will stop in stores etc.

Other tips:

Be Safe. We want to get much work done, but staying safe is incredibly important (if for no other reason, you can't help others if you are hurt, so be safe!)

The normal legal disclaimers apply. As volunteers you are on your own. We are suggesting you go and help others, but you are all assuming risk on your own behalf. Which means you can not sue St. Bonaventure, BonaResponds, or anyone else involved with this project/trip.  You must fill out this form:

Often times we are working in the homes of people who just lost everything.  Be respectful.  Be kind.  Please no swearing around those we are helping.   Imagine others going through your house. 

Step right in and get involved.  Unlike some organizations, we do not have mandatory classes on volunteering before you start helping.  It is largely on the job training (exceptions for power tools and chain saws etc).  So jump in, work with others, and make a difference.  You do not need to be asked.  Get going! :)

If the trip is longer than a few days, we will TRY to find a place to do laundry, BUT no guarantees and expect to wear dirty clothes to work in. 

Make new friends.  If you only hang out with those you knew before the trip, you are missing out on much of the fun/learning.  So work with others.  

Talk to others. Don't just work. It is supposed to be fun. Play music.  But Talk AND work at the same time :) 

The days will be long.  We are there to work not to go sightseeing, engage in Volutourism, or just to be somewhere different.  We are there to work.  We generally start between 8-9 and work until dark. 

Whenever possible, get others involved. Especially those you are helping. This is great for their mental outlook and makes it much more meaningful for the volunteers as well. (invite them back to "camp" for a meal if at all possible").

Things will go wrong. Don't sweat it too much. Remember better not perfect.

Be prepared to clean and pack the van before going.  This is not a large organization.  We all work as well as volunteer.  So it will not be done in advance.   

You don't need to stay with us (You can get a hotel or sleep at home etc) but again, you will miss out on some of the adventure and bonding.  Many great memories are made on late night bonfires, trips to a grocery store (or Walgreens!), or just hanging out. 

Be flexible. If you start out to do job A and job B gets done instead, oh well. Often these things happen for the best.

Have fun! We are not paying you. So you better have some fun!

Be Safe! 

It will be fun!
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Monday, October 07, 2013

A BonaResponds Update

Fast updates:

Weould love to have you work with us this weekend in NYC area:

 BonaResponds will be going to Breezy Point and the Rockaway (NY) area and working with Habitat on rebuilding after Sandy. We will be leaving approximately 5:30 on Fri (Oct 11) and returning LATE on Monday (leaving Breezy about 6:30 PM). The cost is $20 to pay for gas and a tee shirt.

Local jobs have been going well.  Since the end of August: We've shipped 14 barrels and 5 pallets of supplies to Haiti, we've have done several ramps (depending on definition we've done 3-5, but 3 complete new ones), painted a house, mowed the Bob's Woods trails, taken down a ramp, and are working on getting a gentleman a new hot water heater.  All since start of the school year.

Alas many many more jobs are waiting.  There is ALWAYS a need for leaders and volunteers.  Specific leader positions that are open: 

1. BR for SPCA leader (responsibilities include taking volunteers to walk dogs, working with SPCA on meeting other needs).

2.  WarmSnugglyBlanket leader--identifying people who could use a blanket and getting the blankets (we have about 100 now) distributed.  Also growing the program. (can be done online)

3. Haiti coordinator--tracking shipments, giving updates (social media), managing penpal program, working on money transfers to solar power installers, FUND RAISING for HaitiScholarships, school supply collections. (can be done online with some local help)

4. Helping Jen and Shamae launch their programs in the slums of Cerbu City in the Philippines. (can be done online with some local help)

5. Tool and supply maintenance for us locally--includes getting oil changes, repairing and cleaning tools, etc.  (Must be done locally)

6. Help for Jen to keep website up to date and to Reed&Sarah on newsletter. (can be done online)

Some of these are local (ie. tool repair) but others can be done online.  ANd many hands make light work, so we'd love to have your help! 

But first, we'd really love you to help in NYC this coming weekend.  Sign up below :)

thanks everyone! 


Listen to Jim's recent interviews

the BonaResponds Moment from WGWE (aired 10/3/2013) A longer one from WPIG (aired 10/6/2013)

Hey, it's better than watching his videos!

Sign up for fall break trip

We will be leaving late on Friday (Oct 11) and returning VERY late on Monday/Tuesday AM.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Happy to announce a new program whereby BonaResponds will be helping in the Phillipines

I do not know where does randomness end and "this was meant to be" starts.

This summer I hired Jen as an assistant from Odesk.  She lives in the Phillipines and was a great worker.  In our almost daily emails, a friendship was formed and she learned of BonaResponds (BR) (usually first thing I explain to anyone).  Conversations soon turned to how could BR help make things better in the Philippines. 

Well it is now 5 months later and I am happy to announce it to the public.  Well sort of. :) 

Let me start by saying, I do not know how we can help.  It is not our job to know exactly what we are going to do.  Instead we are going to support Jen and her friend Shamae in their efforts to make the world a little bit better.  Maybe through education, maybe through a reading program, or who knows.  But they are committed to helping and we are willing to help.  So if you want to get involved, let us know.

Want to see how much of need there is?  Watch this BBC documentary on the slums where millions live:



We will be working with CYC (Christian Youth Corps) in Delevan NY.  There are two ramp projects as well as a new door installation and more!

We will be leaving SBU at 10 on Saturday and 10:30 on Sunday.  Please come with us :)

No really, please come.  We are up against a few events on campus (notably the notorious Keg Clash) which always hurt our turnout.  So please come out to help.  Open to all.