Friday, August 28, 2015

Many of you don't know about the podcast

With school starting, I think it is a good time to remind everyone about the BonaResponds' Podcast.  It is a collection of interviews done over the past year or so.  It is available online at and on iTunes.

Topics include BonaResponds' History, memorable trips, discussions with key volunteers (past and present), groups we work with, updates, and  conversations about how we can make the world a little better.  I am having a great time doing them (and listening to them!).  They are really fun and informative.

The most recent one (maybe not the best quality due to a poor connection) is with the leaders of CYC-Liberia.  A group we have worked with over the past year since the Ebola crisis of 2014.

Here is the iTunes link--please subscribe and listen! :)  you will like it

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Late August Update

Update on many fronts:

BUSY day(s)! As in TIME OUT please!  :)

1. We will need any leaders (basically if you have volunteered with us before, we need you Saturday from 9:30 to 12:30 (can stay longer if you want :)  Much work!  We have 40 volunteers for 2 hours (actually about an hour of work).  Meeting in MURPHY Aud.

2. Bonas And Beyond may kill me, but it will be a great way to go out!  Scheduling is a chore!  So many awesome things going on!  Wow.  Confirmed a talk at the Olean Public Library at 6:30 (POSSIBLY 7:00) PM on Wed. Sept 30.  (Plan on being in Swan on SBU campus at

3. Thank you to those who donated the 8 boxes of books that awaited me on my return from Colorado!

4. Thank you to Carol W and her friends and family in Buffalo for making WarmSnugglyBlankets!  Also to Mrs. Martin in Olean for doing the same to be donated to The Pink Pumpkin Project.  Next on that front is to get some people to take over the logistics of delivery and shipping.  I am spread too thin.

5. Thank you to Pearce Steel and Rob Granger for donating a solar electric hook up for our trailer.  It will allow us to have lights and charge our cordless batteries while working in and around the trailer (Old semi-truck body).

6. Podcast interview with Bishop Nelson and Charles from Liberia went well.  Everything in Liberia is more expensive and we do need to figure out a better way to help them.  Shipping to Liberia long term is simply out of the question on cost ($388 per 100 pounds). We will do the first shipment as promised, but in the future I think sending money is more economical.

7. We have had VERY few calls for our 10th year what BonaResponds means to me which leaves me to assume that  either we don't mean much you many people or I have failed to get the message out enough.  So PLEASE CALL!!  whether you volunteer with us or were helped by us or just want to tell us how I mess up, please call 1-800-606-0697 and when prompted, enter your Invitation Number: 15425.  We will then combine them into a video/presentation for sharing!

8. I am working on a 10th Year Anniversary of Katrina post, but not done with it yet.    I highly recommend you look back on our blog.  Also here is an interview I did with local TV yesterday on the anniversary:

9. VERY excited be working with Sr. Paula (phys ed) and Steve B (Women's soccer), Neil (SBU grad and Special Olympics of NY President and CEO, and Bony in Port Au Prince to help bring Special Olympics to more people in Haiti.  I think Bony's email today summed it up perfectly why I am so excited to be helping:

"I really thank you for your help after the earthquake, and I appreciate your vision to make this world a better place and we share this common vision cause this is what Special Olympics Haiti and the Special Olympics  Movement is throughout  the world. Our program is not only sport, as [some] people think. Special Olympics is based on community building and our focus is to develop the capacity and talent of those that are considered the most vulnerable of this country. We are a movement that uses sport as a vehicle to transform the life of our all societies because the only way to build strong development is to create integration of all human being in the social life and activities and is to create an inclusive society where everyone is counted and is given the opportunity to express themselves. Acceptance is one of our values. If we cannot create acceptance we won’t be able to build a better and inclusive world."

10.  REMEMBER: we need volunteers.  Sat 9:30, Sunday 11:30 (we will be meeting at the trailer on Sunday).  Trail work Saturday, ramps/steps on Sunday (I think--been so busy I have not confirmed with owners, but one way or the other, we have way too long of list of jobs waiting our help.)

thanks everyone!---Jim

Monday, August 24, 2015

Diane from Pass Christian MS on ABC news

Posted on FB first, but the videos are so moving, we will repost here:

As we all look back ten years at Hurricane Katrina, I highly encourage you to watch these videos on the storm. They feature my friend Diane Pontius Brugger and her heroic story. Her husband was killed, her business and home destroyed. She argues she just hung on to a tree but that took great courage. Incredible courage.

A lesser person would have given up. Try to imagine it: you are in a tree, in the dark, water all around you, the Gulf of Mexico now surrounding what only minutes before had been your life. Your husband dead, your life in shambles. But she hung on. And not only then but over the years following.

We had the great fortune of meeting her on a trip down to work with Randy's Rangers in Pass Christian. We were cutting trees (I think for her neighbor first?) when she offered us something to drink and I think cookies. She was (and is) just as nice a person as I had ever met (for those who have been on other trips imagine Georgia from Tuscaloosa or Beverly Twitty from Olean and you have an idea of how kind and loving a person we are talking about).

When she found out we were staying in large tents, she offered her own rooms and shower/bath. We had a late night bon fire on her grounds with some of the branches we had cut earlier. We played with her dogs--especially her large and very playful dog (I think named Ivan). And remember, she didn't know us.

She did rebuild and now runs a B&B in Pass Christian. In this video she is interviewed by Robin Roberts and in the second video she is interviewed by a local reporter at Thursday's screening of the ABC video that aired last night.…/katrina-survivor-describes-c…/story…

And a personal note to Diane, thank you. Your kindness and courage in the aftermath of the storm was a high point of our many trips to the Gulf. I remember volunteers at our then nightly all-hands meetings (Reflections) telling and retelling stories of your generosity and how much it meant for them.

In the video you humbly say you are not a hero as all you did was hang on to two trees. I would argue you are a hero and rolemodel (‪#‎rolemodelhero‬) not only for mustering the courage to hang on when letting go would have been so easy, but also for your life since.

You have shown us all, that life does go on and that kindness and a good attitude can overcome much. You have done this in a manner that also reminds us to honor and never forget what we have lost, but to not let those losses drag us down as well.

Thank you Diane, your example tells a story we all need to know.

Monday, August 10, 2015

BR Newsletter (August)

Hi Everyone, 

Going to try and get the newsletter a bit more active this coming school year so figured we would start today!

1.  Things are going well.  Been very busy this summer with ramps, donations, etc.  But doing well!  Trip to Oklahoma back in June seems so long ago.  

2. NEW PROGRAM!   Bonas and Beyond!  Big plans for fall

Probably the biggest thing we have planned is 20 Haitian Students coming to SBU for Bonas and Beyond!  A series of classes, seminars, and trips.  It is open to all and is going to be excellent!  Get involved and plan on attending!  Kickoff is Sept 24 and it runs through Oct. 12th.

3.   Hard to believe it has been ten years since Hurricane Katrina.  It seems both like yesterday and a 100 years ago.  BR has grown and prospered in so many ways.  From work locally, to 17 states, to Haiti, Liberia, and the Philippines. All centered on a simple motto: volunteer and change the world!  We'd love to know what BonaResponds means to you.  Whether you volunteered with us, were helped by us, or just as an active spectator on what we have done.  You can email us at with a short write-up (and photos!) or call and tell your story (you have 30 minutes).  It is very easy: Call 
1-800-606-0697 and when prompted, enter your Invitation Number: 15425.  We will then combine them into a video/presentation for sharing!

4. New and On-Going Collections: 

   A.  NEW!  Working with a job training program in Leogane Haiti, so we would love to send new or used tools.  Hammers, tape measures, etc.  
   B. School supplies!  Always much demand for these supplies (new or used) Pencils, pens, crayons, notebooks, calculators, etc.  
   C.  Gardening tools (gloves, small shovels, clippers, etc).
   D.  Books (some will stay in the US, some to Haiti)--local and to some groups in Oklahoma. ANY book in French or Creole gets extra thank yous!
   E. Shoes--Haiti and Liberia.  (again some may stay in the US depending on needs)
   F. Soccer equipment --We supply several groups across Haiti (great program--here is a video we had made:

The most recent shipment arrived.  Here is what Djemson had to say from Gonaives Haiti:

"Please find some pictures of the kids with the garden materials, books, bag, balls etc! I also attached please find some pictures of the children using the garden tools by planting the seeds that you sent!

A big thank you to BonaResponds, also a big thank you to you Jim for all your supports! I really appreciate that and I really miss words to thank you for everything!

On behalf of all our 17 children, We say a big thank you to you!
With gratitude,

Djemson Jeudy" 

5. We are Launching a "Work with BonaResponds" program where local teams, schools, and church groups can schedule a day a month to volunteer with us!  

6. Looking for donations for solar power and composting toilets in Haiti and Liberia.  (Solar is about $1500 for most schools)  Also Bishop Nelson would LOVE some money for blankets for the 118 orphans they are caring for in post-Ebola Liberia. 

7. Have you listened to our podcast?  It is a series of interviews and tlaks that allow you to relive great BonaResponds moments as well as learn what is happening with us!  Subscribe at
or listen individually at

Ok, that is the VERY fast update.  Really hope many of you take the time to call in a "what BonaResponds means to me".  Remember call Call 1-800-606-0697 and when prompted, enter your Invitation Number: 15425.


(and the whole BR team!)

PS we are ALWAYS looking for volunteers.  Come Volunteer and Change the World.  We work ALMOSt every Saturday & Sunday

Friday, August 07, 2015

From our FB wall:

This month marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. As you know, it was that disaster that led to the founding of BonaResponds. Much has changed over the past 10 years, but a desire to help is still at the core of all that we do.
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the founding of BonaResponds, we want to put together an online history that captures the BonaRespond spirit for all of us. It will serve to remind us of our roots, encourage "lost volunteers" to come back and help, and spur future volunteers to get involved.

What do we want? We are asking you to send a brief (or long if you prefer) story or recollection of a BonaResponds trip/experience/impact. It can be emailed to us for inclusion (


 you can call and leave a message at 1-800-606-0697 and when prompted, enter your Invitation Number: 15425.

Be sure to state your name on the start of the call!
Pictures and personal updates (what you are doing now etc) would be great too!

Finally, we'd love to hear not only from volunteers but also (and maybe more importantly) from those we 
helped. Whether in Biloxi or Buffalo, Hinsdale or Haiti, Pass Christian or Portville. In 2005 or 2015 or everywhere in between! This is open to everyone.

PS please share with those you know have been involved with BonaResponds in any way.