Thursday, February 24, 2022

February 24th update

Some fast updates.    I am combining  PositiveRipples (PR), and BonaResponds (BR) posts together.  And I will cross-post.   Sorry for any duplication.

  1. LINK: 

    Some fast updates.    I am combining  PositiveRipples (PR), and BonaResponds (BR) posts together.  And I will cross-post.   Sorry for any duplication.

    1. BR: This Saturday (and likely next week some as #Bonas is on spring break) we will be cleaning up after flood damage in Allegany NY.   Meeting at 11:15 behind Swan (by Baseball field, grotto, and the Maintenance garage) on SBU campus. 

    2. BR: Brother Joe has sent several pictures and updates.  Short version: the 750+ food bags that BR packed are greatly appreciated and people at the shelters all want to thank the donors and volunteers.  He said they are covering many areas and that the needs are great but many people are working together to help. 

    3. PR: Julemiste (the 13-year-old girl with sickle cell anemia from Leogane Haiti) has received treatments with the initial money we sent.  Her care providers are looking for a specialist to treat her on a more long-term basis.  Stay tuned, but a HUGE THANK YOU to those who have helped get her this far! 

    4. PR: The roof went on Abduraman’s house.  He is the young man who has many challenges (we gave him crutches in the past).   The next issue: he needs a mattress as the previous lack of a roof (it blew off in a storm back in December) led to rain in the house and this mattress got wet and moldy.  Stay tuned.   He is going to see how inexpensive they are. 

    5. PR: Peter (the 7-year-old boy who needed emergency intestinal surgery) is doing well.   He and his family are still in Freetown.   They are so thankful for all of you who helped!

    6. BR: planning for the basketball tournaments is ongoing.   We will likely start with one in Makeni Sierra Leone.  The planning in Haiti is a bit more complicated, but I am confident we can make it work. 

    7. PR: The 4th water well is working!   Porky said it was the most difficult work he has done in his many years of working with us.  A great round of applause to him and the others who worked on this (and of course the donors!)

    8. PR: we had another request for a water well and/or more water tanks in Sierra Leone.  I would LOVE to say we could do it, but I do not know.  We are spread thin, too thin, but the need and suffering are great.  So, we do not know yet.  

    9. PR: Rochelin and his team have now planted over 3000 trees this school year!   And in very exciting news, PositiveRipples will be teaming up with Energy Mark to help get more people using green energy AND to get more trees planted.   (Thanks to Luke Marchiori) 

    10. PR: the cabbage and peppers are growing well in Haiti.  PositiveRipples holds an equity stake in this farm and money raised on the sale will be used to help further our efforts in Haiti.  Porky is the superhero on this one!  

    11. BR: Super excited to be working with the Olean YMCA on a ramp building/fundraiser for them when the weather warms some.   I would love to tell you a date on that, but....stay tuned.  

    12. BR: Look for a blanket-making day right after the midterm break. 

    13. BR: We are happy to be co-sponsoring bringing Father Greg Boyle to campus in September.   Stay tuned!  Save Sept 14th!  Likely date.   Can’t wait?  Contact me, Tom Vozzo, the CEO of Homeboy and author of the newly released “The Homeboy Way” will be speaking on SOOM to my classes and BR volunteers.  If you would like to take part, please let me know!

    14. BR: We lost a hero this week.  Dr.  Paul Farmer died.  He was an inspiration to millions and his work has saved untold thousands in Haiti and around the world.   As a way of paying tribute to him, we will be teaming up with the great people in Bonaventure School of Health Care professionals to show this film.  Stay tuned.  We do not know details (I always tell more than I know, sooner than I should!) 

    15. Once the weather breaks, we have multiple ramp jobs and trail work waiting.   PLEASE help :) 

    16. We are always looking for volunteers locally especially.   Getting people out has been hard with the weather and covid.  We’d love to have you out helping with us! 

    17. I would be remiss if I left out Matt for helping to recruit new students for SBU and volunteers for BR at the recent Scholars Day at SBU.  THANK YOU Matthew!

    You can send items directly to the migrant shelter

    This is Sr Judy!! 

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Immigration: Food Packing for people along the Mexican border

 November 6, 2021.      Swan 101 11:00-3:00?? 

Come help us pack food for those along the US Southern border.  

There are no easy answers to the issue of immigration.  People are traveling for a myriad of reasons. Some are running from gangs.  Some are running from corruption.  Some want to be with family members.  All want a better life.  

No matter what side of the immigration debate you are on, I hope you agree the immigrants are people who deserve to be treated as our brothers and sisters.  They have gone through so much. 


Please join us on Saturday and learn more about the issues facing the immigrants and what we can do to help.  We will be packing food and writing notes to them to encourage them and spread hope and a reminder that they are important people. 

Here is an informational page:  

Sign up to learn more please fill out this google form:  

There will be a zoom link for the food packing event.  Please fill out the above form to participate and to get the link.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Short-term "pain", long-term gain

One problem with volunteering is that you often don't see a long-term impact of a project.  Indeed it is a problem in life itself.  We can see and measure the short-term cost, but rarely see, and almost never measure, the longer-term benefits (and positive ripples).  

Of course, you sometimes see instantaneous results. We can see the homeowner moving back in after a disaster, or seeing a physically challenged person use his/her new wheelchair ramp and knowing that it will give safety and the ability to live at home.  Likewise, we see the smile of a child when you give them books or school supplies. We see the water running in the wells we fund in less developed nations.  We may even see the report cards of the students we help attend school through our scholarship programs. 

But you just never know.  You are never certain that the work is worth it. On days when I am tired or busy or after a defeat (and yes, there are defeats), I would be lying if I didn’t admit to questioning the longer-term impact of some of our projects.  And I am sure I am not alone.  

This weekend I was fortunate to see some of those longer-term impacts and the stories are heart-warming as well as motivational. 

This weekend we worked at the Remote Area Medical Pop-up Clinic in Belmont New York.  I want to start this story by publicly stating that we had nothing to do with the actual planning or organizing of the event.  That task was on Anne, Nikki, and others who worked for over a year to get the event to Allegany County.  And they did a great job!  

A RAM event takes many, many volunteers.  I do not know the final number for this event, but for the one in Olean we had almost 500 volunteer shifts and I am confident that this one was similar.  Each person who volunteered made a difference and without them, the events would not be successful (the same is true for virtually any event!) 

I spotlight the importance of all volunteers to single out a small handful of volunteers at this event (they will remain nameless).  These volunteers had been patients at the event in Olean a month ago. Now they were giving up their weekend to help others.  In volunteering, they became but the latest in a long list of people who after getting a hand-up, come together to give back and help others up.   In doing so, they became a great example of the BonaResponds’ mantras that from time to time we all need a helping hand and also the basic tenant in all of our work that all people have value and can share that value to make the world a better place.

The next story is only loosely tied to the RAM event.  At the RAM event, like most events, I got the job that required the least skill.  It was to patrol the parking lot and help get people signed in.  It was a job that truly anyone could do and indeed I encourage you all to do it the next time that RAM returns to the area!   But I will confess that two days of very little sleep and much standing led to the short-run consequences of sore feet and tired legs. 


So in the five hours between the end of my overnight shift and the start of the take-down shift, I drove home for a few hours of sleep and a short run on the Genesee Valley Greenway Trail in Hinsdale.  To say it was a slow run is an understatement.  My legs had zero energy and each step hurt my feet, but I did it.  And as the run went on I felt a little better.  

I tell you the story not to discuss my lack of fitness, but to mention what I saw on the trail:  a family out walking.  I know it is not earth-shattering news, but to see them walking on a trail that BonaResponds has worked so hard on was very encouraging and uplifting.  Yes, there are "maybes", but the "maybes" are all good:  Maybe the kids will appreciate nature more. Maybe the parents will have less stress. Maybe the whole family will be more healthy. Collectively, the "maybes" dwarfed the memories of the work needed to help make the trail.

The last story I want to tell of the weekend has to do with another project that BR has worked on, that was not universally popular within the BR volunteer team: work at Gargoyle Park in Olean to help build a disc-golf course.  It was hard work (especially when the City would not allow us to use chain saws back in the spring) and when we had few volunteers this fall.   The goal of the project (for which Rich deserves most of the credit) is to give people something to do outside that is a good family activity as well as providing some exercise and maybe serve as a draw for the Olean area.   This weekend all of those things happened as they hosted the first disc golf tournament.  Participants came from hundreds of miles and over 80 competed.   A great start to a project that I hope continues to spread positive ripples for generations to come.  

What is the takeaway?  The good effects of volunteering can be felt long after the short-run weariness is gone.  Think long-term! Volunteer and change the world!

Monday, September 27, 2021

How was your weekend?

 How was your weekend?   BonaResponds and PositiveRipples had a very productive one!

  1. Locally, we built a wheelchair ramp for Ken and his family!  Great work by the volunteers on Family weekend! 

  2. On Sunday, the trailer was cleaned out and the West End trails in Bobs’ Woods (to the West of the tennis Courts and maintenance garage were cut and trimmed!   And thanks to the generous donation of a riding mower the work took just a fraction of the time!

  3. In Les Cayes Haiti, donations to PositiveRipples made it possible to fix the 4th water well since the August 14th earthquake.  I find it hard to believe, but we are told that almost 2000 households now depend on water from these wells.  It is hard to imagine a more impactful program. Great job Porky!

  4. Also near Les Cayes, Haiti, Rochelin and his team of about 16 volunteers completed clearing their 9th building.   Simply wonderful (but very hot and difficult work).  Your donations to PositiveRipples will keep them with the needed tools to accomplish this great work. 

  5. In Freetown Sierra Leone, Aminata purchased 70 trees that are expected to be planted this coming weekend (in conjunction with Francis Week on campus!).   This is one of the cooler programs that I have been part of as she is buying the trees as a means of paying back a loan from PositiveRipples that was used to expand her inventory to include handbags and more clothes.  Multiple wins!

  6. Near Makeni Sierra Leone, Bangura and his friends raised money to pay for 9 students in school as part of his Birthday celebration.  If you want to get them to 10, you can donate to and just say that you want the money to go to school children in Sierra Leone.  

Not a bad weekend!  It was not perfect as we did have other requests (in Haiti, Sierra Leone, and Liberia that we didn’t have the funds for, and locally that we didn’t have the volunteers for), but a great weekend!   Thank you to all who make it possible! 

Remember, Bonaventure and Olean are not in the middle of no where, but in the middle of everywhere!

Wednesday, September 08, 2021


 Super excited about Remote Area Medical coming to Olean!   

Help spread the word!  

From FB: 
More on RAM from

Saturday, February 20, 2021

TEXAS is Calling!

 Remember Dickenson Texas post-Hurricane Harvey? No, here is a video of the trip:

Why are we bringing it up now? We spoke with PastorAmos Sowell this afternoon. He is just a great guy! We stayed with him on two different trips and met with him on three trips to the area.

While he is still recovering from being hospitalized with Covid, he is helping to organize help for those in the Dickenson area who had frozen pipes, etc as a result of the recent weather and electric disaster there.
will be spearheading a collection for water, drywall, and plumbing supplies.
When speaking to him, he said they still had work left from Harvey, and definitely need a helping hand now!

PositiveRipples will be sending money a few times, so please lend a hand. IDEALLY, we can go down there after everyone gets vaccinated and we are again allowed to travel, SO PLEASE GET VACCINATED and mask up now so the spread stops!

We will have more updates coming, but please think about donating to (and comment TEXAS) on the donations that you want to go there!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Let's get people registered for the vaccines!

Getting people vaccinated is a huge priority right now. And BonaResponds needs your help! 

Our main need is on Tuesdays. We will be working with the Cattaraugus County Health Department to help people register. 

 Our time slot is 8:30-3:00 (we may add more). We will split it. Not sure on exact details yet (would it be a BR event if I were sure of anything?).  For starters (this week only?) 

8:30-12:00 and 11:30-3:00. 

  We need people who have been being safe/ or tested, do not have COVID, or have had it or are vaccinated. Masks will be required. We will be socially distanced. 

 On Saturdays, we will be doing something different but will be helping people know how to sign up. Tuesday is our biggest need right now!

This is what I sent out on WhatsApp: 

Remember: the biggest at-risk group is elderly and it is hitting poor communities hardest, these groups are the ones least able to register online and they depend on phones.   HENCE THE NEED FOR PHONES and HELPERS!

If you can help it would be a great thing to help end this pandemic that much sooner.  

I am sure there will be many questions, but like most BR projects I do not have the answers yet. I can say, it will help get the local vaccine project moving as we will free up others to run and coordinate clinics and the like.  

Tuesdays (all semester) will be our slot.  8:30-3:00.  We can break it up but we will need many people.  I am suggesting 8:30-12:00, 12:00-3:30 time slots for now.  We can change it going forward.     (At the present we will NOT be offering transportation.)

Here is a form to sign up:   Thank you in advance for helping!   We are living through historical times and we all need to pull together!:

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Hard times around the world and down the block

 November 22, 2020

These are hard times.  For all of us. 

It is difficult for students forced to be away from class.

It is stressful for business owners worried about the future of the businesses.  

It is bad for children who want to see their friends and loved ones.   

It is lonely for the elderly who are not allowed visitors, can't go out, and can not just "jump online" and video chat with friends around the world.  

It is difficult for the essential workers who are working extra hours in stressful conditions as well as those people who have lost their jobs and are not sure where their next meal is coming from.  

I could go on and on.  We all could.  

I do not want this to be a message of despair, but a message of hope.  I want this to be a message reminding us all (including myself) that we can make the world a little better.   A message of unity from the chaos and insanity of division.  A message of love from a world where many are determined to spread hate.  A message of “yes we can” in a world where we are all so overwhelmed that we feel our efforts are meaningless. 

In the past day alone I have heard from friends far and wide going through tough times.  They do not know (or just barely know) each other and had no idea they were all texting with me.  They are from around the world and down the block.  They are my constant reminder that we are all neighbors in universe-space. 

(note these stories are all true but I am changing just enough that they won’t be known as none gave me permission to share their stories.) 

I will start off in Haiti.  A text from a friend there was reminding me that many children can not go to school and that he and his team want to build a new school where teachers will be able to get more poor children off the streets and into classrooms. But that such a school costs money (his very low estimate was $2500 and money is tough to be found.  

I next heard from a friend who runs a home for poor children in Port au Prince Haiti.  She told of violence and killings in the Haitian capital and even kidnappings on their street.  She told of the chaos that the widely-swinging foreign exchange rate was bringing to the country, and of the energy crisis that was facing Haiti.  Oh and that Covid19 was picking up there too, but the government can not afford to have people tested.  

Jumping to the Bahamas, I heard from a friend who can not find work as many businesses have been closed and others are open but only for limited hours.  This friend was having a very difficult time back before hurricane Dorian hit ravishing the island.  When BonaResponds left the island in March (just as the virus was exploding around the globe and shutting down international tourism on which so much of Bahamas depends), my friend was handing out resumes.  The summer was exceedingly difficult as the island was shut down (Shut-downs there were MUCH more harsh than those in the USA) and then several months were lost to his/her own medical issues that led to a prolonged hospital stay. 

Going to a major city in Sierra Leone next, I got many texts from anfriend who had gone out of the city into a small village and saw how the poor children are suffering from a lack of food brought apart in large part from the economic downturn brought about by the virus and the political situation in Sierra Leone. 

Staying in Sierra Leone I heard from a very good friend who has been traveling.  A few weeks ago he was invited to speak at a school for disabled children and saw how bad it was there.  He wants to help so much, but as always funds are limited.  He is a wonderful person who want to help, but is in a difficult place right now.

Back to the USA, a message from a single-mom in Western New York (near Buffalo not the Hudson River) who recently recovered from the virus (it was awful by the way) and was now facing the simultaneous challenges of isolation, online schooling, excess work (she works in the healthcare field), and a lack of the typical stress relievers (gyms, restaurants, and family and friend time).  

And now we will come back to Olean where a text from a medical professional in Olean (where I live) led to this post.  She told of how many of her patients (who disportionately are elderly and many in nursing homes) are really suffering from social isolation. She texted that her kids wanted to see their grandfather.  She texted that she wanted to get back to more normal routines; of not having to worry about a fast stop at the market and not bringing back the virus to her family.  

I have probably written too much, given you too many examples, but I want you to all know that feeling stressed and “down” is normal right now.  It is not “just you”  it is all of us. 

But I would be remiss if I did not also tell you the good that is happening that might not be known.  So please stay with me for a bit.  Let me tell you of 4 pallets of school supplies and medical equipment going to Haiti, or the 2 pallets going to schools on the Navajo Reservation, or the pallet that was distributed to St. Francis Elementary School  an inner city school in Cleveland, or the van full of items that went to Buffalo’s Catholic Charities for refugees from the Congo, or 9 wheelchair ramps that BonaResponds made this semester, or the trails that are clear so people can relax with nature, or the penpal program started to write to those in nursing homes, or helping with toy distribution locally or helping to paint at the Warming House or about starting our Haitian tree program to give jobs/give food/reduce carbon in the atmosphere, or maybe our biggest success:  Ibrahim.  

To those who have been friends for a while, you probably remember Ibrahim.  He is from Sierra Leone.  Almost a year ago he was hit by a truck while selling ataya (tea) on the streets of Makeni.  Not having money, he waited for the badly broken leg to heal (both the tibia and fibula were broken).  This made things worse and we were asked to help.  YOU all pitched in and we raised enough money to allow him to have his surgery (about 8 months after the accident).  The surgery was a success and he is recovering.  This is a huge win and you all should be rightly proud that in the middle of political turmoil, a pandemic, and uncertainty everywhere, you made a positive difference.   You gave Ibrahim his leg back.  You gave him hope for a better tomorrow.  

This all reminds me of the famous starfish story.  If you have never heard me tell it, or even if you have, here is my favorite video on it.  (and yes, I have watched about 8 of them this morning alone):


All of us can and do make a difference to many in all that we do.  From helping future generations, to checking in on friends, to being kind at the checkout stand, to donating to charities, to just smiling and listening to a friend.  You are all doing so much to make the world better.  I want to thank you.  

I also want you to try and focus a little more on the good, than the bad.  There is always enough bad to go around.  Let’s think more about the good.  Let’s all push to make the good a little more.  To give a helping hand to those near and far that need a friend to listen or a hand to hold (virtually of course as the pandemic is still real!).  


How can you help more?  I am sure some of you will want to do more. 

First, let me suggest that you already are helping!  Your donations allow BonaResponds, HaitiScholarships, and PositiveRipples to do what we do.  Indeed, long ago (likely right after Katrina) I started saying “without you, BonaResponds is just a good idea” and I mean that still. So thank you!

If you want to help today or this holiday season, please keep this post in mind.  Together we can make the world better.  Big or small.  We need people to edit videos, to write newsletters, to be penpals, to stand in a parking lot and help collect cans and bottles, to make blankets, to write thank-yous.

I do not know how to rank all those that need help.  I do not have the mental power to say one gets help and one does not.  It truly is the worst part of all of this. 

But I can say that any donation will be used to make the world a better place.

But I can say that Ibrahim is asking for a $500 loan to get a business started.  We have about $200 left from the initial donations for him, so I think that is first.  Need $300 to he can start his new business. 

After that I can definitely say that $1000 can give our microloan programs in Haiti a huge jumpstart, that $300 can plant about 100 trees in Haiti, that  $1000 would go a long long ways to helping the disabled students in Sierra Leone. 

I can say that $50 buys books for Bonaventure students from the new Brothers and Sisters All reading list, that $25 to pays for a month of schooling for a student.  

Or $5 buys a case of water for a ramp day.   

Well, you get the idea. Any bit helps.

So while it is super hard to rank the needs, I think I would say:

PositiveRipples, HaitiScholarships, and then BonaResponds (we are more constrained in how we can use the funds there) are how I would rank the needs.

But we also need helpers (virtual mainly)!  So if you want to help, please get on our Whatsapp thread and lend a hand!

Feeling better yet?  I hope so!  Let’s focus on progress and not the many many problems facing the world.  Many hands make light work.  Together we can make the world better. 

We have to start somewhere.  So start where you are.

We have to start sometime.  So start today. 

We can help one starfish.  We can help one person.  And one is much better than none!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

 Update on "things": (from FB)

1. The virus has definitely limited our efforts but not eliminated them! We have done 6 ramps this semester, had 3 "can and bottle" drives, loaded 2 pallets and 3 more pallets

waiting to pack for schools, and have done 4-5 trail clearing days so far this semester.

2. Last two days to donate to # to buy books for local (and Queens NY where Mark was from) libraries and schools. Focus of books: black lives. In memory of Mark Stewart a volunteer who died this summer in a hit-and-run accident in NYC. We have raised almost $2000 through can and bottle drives so far for this.

3. Raised $950 for HaitiScholarships. This will pay for a month of school for about 40 students! If you want to help: donate at $1 a day is about what it takes to change the life of a child!

4. We have a tree-planting program ALMOST ready to launch in Haiti! It is so close. We had hoped to be started by the start of October, but well, things happened. (there is a pandemic happening and well school and about 1million other things). How it will work: we raise money to allow businesses (or individuals) to go 'Carbon neutral" (win 1) which will create jobs through our partners in Haiti plant trees (win 2). The trees lower run-off which will reduce flooding (win 3), lower erosion (win 4), and provide shade (it is hot in Haiti!) (win 5). Many of the trees will also provide food (citrus, moringa, coconut, avocado) (win 6). In a few years, once the trees are established, we can grow coffee under the shade (win 7). Yeah, donate! great program! BTW we hope to also do this tree program in the Bahamas where we have discussed it with schools and a member of parliament. (donate at (mention trees) 🌳 🌲

5. We'd love to expand the microloan programs in Haiti. We did start a new one in Leogane with the help of Lamarre (it is taking some time as his mom is in danger of losing her leg at the knee to diabetes and he has obviously been tied up trying to help her!

6. We are playing an integral role is the starting of a website for social justice in conjunction with the St. Bonaventure University School of Business and their new Black Student Enterprise program, the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany and Associates, Bonaventure Franciscan Center for Social Concern, and of course PositiveRipples! If you don't follow us, please do! Bonas for Social Justice! (also on Twitter:

7. This weekend we are building a ramp for a Vietnam war veteran, scouting and dropping off material for a ramp for a woman with cancer, and Hopefully getting some blankets made by a few local church groups as we are pretty much out of WarmSnugglyBlankets.

8. We also won a great honor from the Character Council of WNY as we were selected to represent character and honesty in action. A poster they made will be hung in high schools across WNY!

9. We'd love to have someone write up a newsletter :). and we still have many thank-you notes to write! We really need to get more first-year students involved. Also, one of our leaders will be graduating and one is transferring closer to home as a result of covid, so we REALLY need more leaders :) .

10. We were asked to share this "how Covid is affecting us" survey from the Buffalo United Way. (@Jennifer Owen is running the survey and is a former student who was a great student and I would love you to help her out with the survey!) She stressed it is for all of NYS and not just Erie county!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Bahamas trip and upcoming events

So much news, so little time!

In speed more, here goes:

  1. The Bahamas trip was VERY productive.  8 wheelchair ramps done, three roofs tarped,  three buildings (one house, one office, one apartment) gutted/partially gutted, 3 places where we did mold abatement, floorboards installed, classroom discussion on service and importance of education made, we worked one day at the YMCA, and ??  not sure what else I am missing.  The volunteers were GREAT and the people we helped were very happy to get the assistance!  
  2. We are going back!  Feb 28-March 8/9   Come with us!  We have jobs lined up, a place to stay, the tools are in shipment, but we need volunteers.  Look for a couple of meetings as soon as school starts back up.  Or contact any of the BonaResponds leaders (Maggie, Evan, Kelly, or Natalie will have the most info on it... or me (  
  3. Locally: have many jobs backed up.  First (given the weather) we will be doing iPads, Blankets, and an emergency production of Marsupial blankets.  Look for it Saturday, January 25 in Swan.    Also, have a workday at the Warming House coming up--I suspect Sunday, January 26th.   Moving forward, we need a couple of packing days (for the Bahamas and for Haiti), we also have a request to paint in Portville for aquaponics program there.   and of course, there are MANY ramps waiting for nicer weather.  
  4. Nationally: we want a short weekend trip to Cleveland.  The idea is to work at St. Francis Elementary school again AND to have an educational component, a service component, and a basketball tournament.  
  5. Internationally: Haiti: shipments, more work on microloans, and hopefully an educational conference with Enactus.    ALSO and this is MY favorite: more gardens and tree planting.  and of course fundraising for   
  6. Internationally: Sierra Leone: new gardens, more educational projects, working to reduce suicides by working on personal worth and projects to spread hope and jobs.