Sunday, February 15, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions

It has been a while since we had a basic interview about BonaResponds, so we collected the most recent series of questions that have come in over the past few weeks:

Q & A  with BonaResponds

Q. How can I join?
A. There is no need to join, just show up and help!  We are open to everyone.  There are waiver forms etc when you show up but they take only a couple of minutes.  But we don't have regular (non-work) meetings, we have no dues, etc.  Just volunteer and change the world!

Q. I don't know how to _______ (build a ramp, put in a floor, cut a tree, gut a house, etc.).  What can I do??
A. You can learn on the job.  It is all relatively easy work.  As Jim says regularly: "If I can figure it out, so can you".  And besides, there is speaking with the family we are helping, taking pictures, running errands, etc.  There will always be something you can do to help!

Q. Are you still collecting books and school supplies?
A.  YES!  YES!  YES!  We'd love more books (especially early childhood books) for local schools and we are always looking for school supplies (and small toys, soccer balls etc) for both in US and in Haiti.  (We will also be sending some to Costa Rica and Liberia this year.)

Q. How do you decide what jobs to accept?
A. We pick those that we think we can have a large impact on and that do not involve too high of transaction costs (for instance travel time).  The hardest thing to do is to admit we can not help everyone.  We always have a waiting list.  It is simple economics really: we are an underpriced (and generally free) asset.  So we are in high demand.  We do try to get to as many jobs as we can, but we can not do it all.

Q. Why Haiti?
A. Haiti is an extreme situation.  It has incredibly good people but also incredible poverty.  It is near enough that shipping is feasible. There are many groups doing great work there.  Most of our assistance is helping them do what they do best.

Q. What are your greatest needs?
A. Leaders, volunteers, and money.  Generally in that order.  It works best when the leaders work with us for a while so they can understand how we work, and also work with us at least once a month to see the fruits of their labor.

Q. Can I help even though I don't go to Bonaventure?
A. ABSOLUTELY yes!  We are open to everyone.

Q. Do the students get class credit for volunteers? Do the leaders get paid?
A. No and No.  We are volunteers. We do this when we can fit it in.  Almost all of us have full time jobs or are students.  (There are some classes-for instance Clar401--that have service hour requirements and BonaResponds does count towards those hours).

Q. Would you be willing to work with our business/club/team/church?
A. We'd love to!  We can help provide tools and jobs, and we can work with your group.  It is a great way to give back to the community and a team building experience.  (In fact new research shows that fraud is lower at businesses that work together on community service projects.)

Q. What is the best way to know when you will be working?
A. Facebook or twitter.  It should be noted that our live feed also appears on our website ( so you can always look back there if you are not on social media.

Q. I think I have a job that you should do, how can I submit it?
A. There is a tab on our main page.  That is by far the best.  You can also email, But the form is much preferred.

Q. What is International Service Weekend?  You have mentioned it a couple times now, but I don't know what it is.
A. It is a weekend (this year April 11-12) when we ask people locally and around the world to go make the world a better place AND to share what they did.  It is based on two basic premises: 1. that if we all do a little, much will get done.  2. We need positive role models.  Sharing what you did (#BonaResponds) will encourage others to also do more good deeds.

Q. You seem to do so many things.  What is your mission?
A. We want to help make the world a little better.  It really is as simple as that.  We don't like needless suffering. We want to leave the world a little better than we found it.

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