Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Next Gulf Coast Trip

Our next planned trip is to Pass Christian MS from January 2-12.

We are in desperate need of drivers. So if you can drive, we will reduce your travel costs by $100.

California Update-Final

After discussions with Darius and Bill from HODR who were in California to scout out possible jobs, we have decided to NOT deploy in response to the fires.

It is not that there is not work we could do, but the decision came down to the fact that our Thanksgiving break is short (we have class on Tuesday), the distance of the trip would force us to fly at a cost of about $400 per person for 4 days (and that assumes we work on Thanksgiving), and jobs are hit and miss with some fires destroying homes in an area while other homes were untouched next door. Coupled with the fact that many of the homes are beyond what we could help with (either totally gone or too fancy for us to be of much assistance), we decided it would be best to stay and be ready to help in places closer to here.

Here is the HODR update from Bill.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

California Update

First from Yahoo: Calif. wildfire evacuees face hardships - Yahoo! News:

"With some of the worst wildfires dying down, many Southern Californians lucky
enough to find their homes still standing could nevertheless face hardships for
weeks to come, including polluted air, no electricity and no drinking water...."

Then from me: Spoke with Bill Driscoll today, HODR is also investigating going. They will scout out area and let us know. Stay Tuned.

Friday, October 26, 2007


The Bona Venture - BonaResponds could go above and beyond with more funding:
"As an independent financial entity, BonaResponds has strengthened St.
Bonaventure's reputation and bridged gaps between the university as well as
communities near and far. Imagine what this group could do with more funding and

BonaResponds on the SPCA Web site

There is a nice picture of us on the Cattaraugus County SPCA web site.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

California Update

No decision has yet been made. While there is undoubtedly much work we could do, travel costs may not allow us to do it. Here is a recap of the last few hours:

I spoke with Rob Hoffman this AM....I think he is the SBU alumni president for San Diego. (and a former XC runner!) His family was evacuated two days ago, but allowed back in last night,. They now have two families living with them. One family lost their house to the fire. The other family has not lost their house, but is not allowed back into their neighborhood yet.

He was at work but only about half of the people could make it in.

He said the air was full of ash (making running impossible) and that he would keep his eyes and ears out for jobs if we do go.

Here are a few articles to see what is happening there:

The Washington Post comments on how smoothly things are going in spite of having nearly a half of million people displaced.
"Officials are calling these some of the worst wildfires that San Diego County has seen in modern history. More than 500,000 people have been forced from their homes. But there is also a unique feel to this natural disaster, a distinctly California style, and it is not just the constant presence of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on the TV screens. Meaning: California is dealing with it. Automated "reverse 911" calls were alerting residents to mandatory evacuations. Shelters opened almost immediately"
Both Time and the Christian Science Monitor report that FEMA is doing a much better job this time around. From Time:
""I think there's no question that a couple of lessons from Katrina we're putting into effect here are, first of all, planning and preparation in advance for these kinds of challenges," Chertoff said in a press conference. "Second, we have really flooded the zone as quickly as possible by staging assets to deal both with the firefighting issue and the response issue." Chertoff cited cooperation with the defense department and state authorities with helping battle the fire."
Yahoo has hundreds of pictures of the fires. This one in particular is amazing.

Here are some other California fire links that I have been following on my RandomTopcis2blog.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fund Raiser--chicken wing eating contest

BonaResponds was named the recipient of money raised at a local chicken wing eating contest! The contest will be held at Third Base (on State Street in Olean) tonight!! October 23. 7-9pm.

Go have some wings and help fund the next BonaResponds project!

Fires in California

A couple of BonaResponds' volunteers have asked if we would be going to California. The best I can say right now is "Maybe".

Laura and Carrie will be investigating it. Problems include distance and what we can actually do if we were there. Fires destroy homes. IF we do go, a small group would likely go over Thanksgiving break. Given the distance and time we would have to fly. Stay tuned! Worldwide:
"At least 576 homes and 102 commercial buildings have been destroyed and more than 15,000 additional homes are threatened, she said. In San Diego, an estimated 250,000 people were evacuated,"

Monday, October 22, 2007

Victims of Ohio floodings thank students and welcome their help - Opinion

Victims of Ohio floodings thank students and welcome their help - Opinion:
"For BonaResponds, every trip is different. Different disasters. Different jobs. Different victims. Most of all, different stories. We might be prepared physically, armed with the right tools, equipment and protective clothing and gear, but we can never be mentally prepared for the people we meet and the stories they tell. Clarence, 83, is a victim of the August floods that devastated several Ohio counties. As a blind retired veteran, he is on a tight budget."

Great article Em!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Under the trailer

Originally uploaded by FinanceProfessor.
How many people can you see in the picture? I finally got around to uploading some of the other pictures from Ohio. This is what it was like under the trailer.

There are over 260 pictures online here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

From Slidell to Greensburg

Disaster News Network :: Reporting disasters and response efforts:
"Those who traveled to Greensburg expected to work on individual homes similar to the work done by volunteers who come to Slidell. Instead, they found themselves constructing two 30-by-40-foot buildings that will be used to house tools and materials for the rebuilding effort in Greensburg and other Kansas communities affected by the twister."
An interesting article on a church group from Slidell now helping in Greensburg

HODR in Peru

Have you seen this? It is really good/funny.

Monday, October 15, 2007

My Favorite

My Favorite
Originally uploaded by FinanceProfessor.
BonaRespinds and HODR brought together via this picture :)

The shirt is filthy and it was under a long sleeve taped down shirt! More pictures of this job site are here.

A video of the day is here.

SBU's Disaster Relief Organization Rebuilds in Flooded Ohio | HNP Today Newsletter: October 10, 2007, Vol. 41, No. 20 | Publications | Holy Name Provi

A short article on BonaResponds-Ohio appeared in the Holy Name Province Newsletter.

SBU's Disaster Relief Organization Rebuilds in Flooded Ohio | HNP Today Newsletter: October 10, 2007, Vol. 41, No. 20 | Publications | Holy Name Province:
"BonaResponds aims to be a world-class organization whose mission is to help people in need, as well as to build better leaders and better communities. The group, comprised of students, faculty, staff, alumni and local residents, is operated through donations. -— Emily Ciraolo is a St. Bonaventure student, class of 2008."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Small victory for some, enormous victory for John

Need a pick-me up?

Remember "John"? He is the gentleman who lived in the atrocious conditions. We worked on his house each of the past two local days (July and September). You can read about the jobs here. Here is an excerpt:
"His house is as bad as many of those BonaResponds worked on in the months immediately following Katrina. The difference was that John lives in Western New York, less than ten miles from the idyllic Bonaventure campus, and the third-world living conditions were not made by any weather disaster.

I knew it was going to be bad. We had received many emails from his guardian angels (two local residents who have been looking out for John). I had seen the yard and the outside of the house. I knew it was going to be bad. I really did. I knew it was going to smell inside. I knew it was going to be a lot of work. But like in Gulf after the Katrina, knowing what the conditions and experiencing them are two totally different things.

Arriving at John’s house the size and scope of the job hit me hard. A team four times our size would be needed to finish the job. I was overwhelmed. I was discouraged. How can we get this much done? Just the work outside would take a much larger team days to complete in the best of conditions. But the longest journey begins with a single step, so we started...."
Well today we went back to his house. We helped to haul away garbage (paid for through a donation by the Retired NYS Troopers association). Greg and his friends have done a wonderful job. There is now a functioning toilet and by the end of the weekend there will almost assuredly be a shower too. He has hot and cold water. The house, while still remarkably cluttered, no longer smells.

Sure the house needs a paint job. Yeah he should throw out about a million more things, but at least he has a toilet. At least he can get in and out of the house without fear of the porch collapsing.

On the way back from the house we were talking, that this was not a fun job. It was not exciting. But it was just as important as any we have done. To John, it was more so.

And again a special thank you to Greg. You have to be a saint. Without your efforts John would be still living in the unsafe conditions you found him in.

Olean cemetery where vandals painted on many memorials

Maybe We can help? Sill trying.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A thank you from Ohio

Received the following from Carl from Bucyrus. We took out the drywall and carpeting in two and a half of his rooms.

"Dear Bonaresponds,
Thanks you so much for your efforts. I am an 58 year old man who is disabled and I am very grateful to have experienced such kindness. I appreciated all of your efforts with the damaged drywall.I wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Interestingly he had told others of what we did and we then also got another job request, but I had to reply that we had returned to SBU.

Mini Local Day



12-3:30 (sign in 11:45-12:00). We will be hauling garbage, working in dirt, painting (weather permitting), and more (some details still being worked out).

Meet behind Murphy Building. Vehicles and drivers also needed.

It is going to be a short day plus many of our "regulars" will be taking Red Cross training, so we need new volunteers! Come dressed to work outdoors.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Some more new pictures

I think I am up to about 100 pictures now. Many more to still come

No matter the size of the disaster

No matter the size of the disaster, it is still disastrous to those affected. Here we are reminded of that by a simple photo album that was largely destroyed by the water.

Mr. Perry Sings some good advice.

Mr. Perry Sings for Group
Originally uploaded by Nif.
Mr. Perry is the owner of the trailer who's cleanup was the dirtiest job I had done (see yesterday's blog entry). Here he sings to us after we cleaned up and got got ready to leave.

This picture was taken by Jen. It is one of over 280 other pictures from the trip that she uploaded.

Want to listen to Mr. Perry? Here is a video of one of his songs which serves as our send-off as well as a piece of good advice for us all.

BTW I will be uploading a few other videos of his songs soon.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Where are you Mike Rowe?

This has to go to Mike Rowe. It just has to. And Mike, please come with us on our next trip!

BonaResponds Ohio - a photoset on Flickr

BonaResponds Ohio - a photoset on Flickr--

I rearranged the ordering so newest will be first. Here are more pictures.

Group Photo in Shelby Ohio

Group Photo
Originally uploaded by FinanceProfessor.
Here is our last Ohio Job. It was one of the dirties I have ever done. The hope owner (Mr. Perry) was very nice and a good singer (we will upload video later).

What a group and what a day!

Wow that was a day! I could easily write four of five articles, but the most visually telling is this story (with accompanying videos) of what may have been the dirtiest BonaResponds' job I have worked on. Definitely the dirtiest since March 2006. Actual pictures will follow, but the video shows, we might have Mike Rowe look like he was the cleanliness inspector at computer chip manufacturer. Wow were we dirty.

We we at a trailer in Shelby Ohio that had been flooded pretty badly. The carpets on the inside had to be removed but the really dirty work was under the trailer where insulation and other "debris" had to be removed. Wow. It was disgusting.

First you are in a dark, wet area with itchy fiberglass insulation (fortunately we were covered head to toe and taped into our clothes with masks etc on) all around. Add to it you had less than three free to moved around in and you get some small idea of what it was like. Bad? It gets worse. There was mud everywhere, bugs galore, and even the occasional skeletal remains of various wildlife (we think it was a raccoon, but maybe possum).

Add to the wonderful mix, despite the fact that it was announced the plumbing had been disconnected, a volunteer decided to use the "facilities" when other volunteers were underneath the trailer with predictable consequences. In fact, here is Mike describing what happened:

But as they say in show business, the show must go on, so we continued (although a few did opt to work inside).

We got it done and then a neighbor who graciously allowed us to shower before getting in car and driving back to Olean.

Tomorrow we will be doing a partial day back in Olean (working on trails etc).

Here is us "calling out Mike Rowe" and inviting him to our next trip.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Quick recap

I am really tired, but realized I had no pictures and very little description of the day other than the audio posts, so a quick recap:

We broke into two groups again. But today rather than letting people pick which group they worked with, we broke into groups based off of what they were wearing. One team had all shorts, one team had all pants. (And of course this was started by the saying that was something like: anyone without pants is go with Jim, anyone with Pants go with Jerry).

The shorts team went to do two mold jobs (one in Gileon and one in Bucyrus). The pants team did a really tough job in Bucryus that involved removing insulation from a crawl space in what would be the basement for a blind 83 year old artist/WW II veteran.

While more may be forthcoming on the other jobs, the short version was that we were too fast for the jobs and the length of list we had. So in spite of many phone calls trying to line up more jobs, we called it a day about 3:30.

We then had a really fun few hours with football, poker, volleyball, running, and much good conversation. It was followed by dinner (spaghetti and guacamole), a birthday cake for Kaelin (sorry if I spelled it incorrectly!)a reflection (which was excellent), and an all hands meeting.

In the meeting we discussed the uncertainty of jobs tomorrow. What impressed me more than anything was when I told them this, rather than use it as an excuse to be done, the volunteers came up with new ideas. So tomorrow AM we will be helping around Camp Michael doing some roofing, landscaping, basic carpentry, and painting. In the afternoon we have a job in a near by town.

After the job we MAY head home where we will have an impromptu work day around Olean and on campus to finish up some jobs that have been on our plate for a while.

Overall I can not say enough good about the volunteers. We really have a great group again. For those of you who have never been on a trip, I again strongly suggest that you come on one. They really are fun and the people you help are just so grateful.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Cell phone report from the field-Emily

A direct report from the field on what is happening, what it is like, and why you too should volunteer!

Cell phone report from the field--Lynn

A direct report from the field on what is happening, what it is like, and why you too should volunteer!

Cell phone report from the field--Jen

A direct report from the field on what is happening, what it is like, and why you too should volunteer!


Really cool story today from Jerry's Group. They helped an elderly gentleman remove insulation. In return he gave BonaResponds about 10 signed pictures that he had painted prior to his blindness got too severe.

We are debating what to do with the pictures, but currently think we will be auctioning at least some of them off to raise money for future trips.

More details to follow.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Cell phone report from the field

A direct report from the field on what is happening, what it is like, and why you too should volunteer!

Cell phone report from the field--Sean Ryan

A direct report from the field on what is happening, what it is like, and why you too should volunteer!

Removing garbage from the basement

Originally uploaded by FinanceProfessor.
Good day today. Got quite a few homes done overall.

Here Jen and Mike haul garbage up the stairs to carry out.

Here are more pictures from the trip.

Camp Michael in ohio

Camp michael in ohio
Originally uploaded by FinanceProfessor.
This is where we are staying. It is WAY out in the country but very very nice. Kitchen, bathroom facilities, and a very nice "out there".

Cell phone report from the field by Carrie

A direct report from the field on what is happening, what it is like, and why you too should volunteer!

Friday, October 05, 2007

BonaResponds in the news

From Today's BV

On the Ohio Trip:
"While many students will spend their midterm break hanging out with old friends, relaxing and enjoying the comforts of home, volunteers from BonaResponds will rebuild communities in Bucyrus, Ohio.

Floods swamped nine counties in north-central Ohio in late August when water forced thousands of residents to evacuate and left at least 500 homes uninhabitable."
Bob's Woods Trail:
"Bob's Woods...has recently been cleaned up by BonaResponds to make a new path in memory of Father Bob [Stewart].

Father Bob died in 2001 after a fight with cancer, leaving behind his beloved legacy. Besides being an Italian language professor at St. Bonaventure, Father Bob is remembered both for the great friendships he forged and his pleasure of athletic activities."
Students may not be politically aware, but at least they're socially responsible - Opinion:
"Not only do their actions improve the lives of others, they do fantastic PR for the university. Admissions officials have noted how many students were attracted to Bonaventure because of BonaResponds' service."

Test of uploading from phone

Just a test of the system

Bucyrus, Ohio - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Looking for some info on Bucyrus?

Bucyrus, Ohio - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"As of the census of 2000, there were 13,224 people, 5,559 households, and 3,552 families residing in the city"
Weather from

Click for Bucyrus, Ohio Forecast

Thursday, October 04, 2007

St. Bonaventure University: BonaResponds helps Colorado student choose St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure University: BonaResponds helps Colorado student choose St. Bonaventure:
"St. Bonaventure wasn’t a consideration, said Feeley, until she read about BonaResponds’ cleanup efforts in tornado-ravaged Enterprise, Ala. She saw the kind of immediate impact a group like BonaResponds can have"
What a cool article on Anna! Way to go :)

Update: Anna needs injured her shoulder in Rugby and will be missing the Ohio trip, but will assuredly go on other trips with us! Get well soon!!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Thank You! Thank you! Thank you!!

While by no means an exhaustive list (and I apologize upfront if I missed anyone), we have received several nice donations to help us on the Ohio trip and in future events.

Gifts of over $100 in since the start of the school year:
  • Bob Keenan--used tools. These tools will be used many many more times. It should be noted that some of these tools were those of SBU legend Leo Keenan.
  • The Coates--for tools
  • Pat Mahar--for Bob's Woods
  • The Magieras
  • First Baptist Church of Olean's Vacation Bible School
  • The Retired NYS Troopers Association--for "John's" house.
  • Emily Sinsabaugh
Additionally I want to single out two local retailers who have been very generous with both donations and selling many items at cost:
  • Park and Shop in Allegany (Ok so I might influence that one a tad ;))
  • Worth W. Smith in Olean.
Without the support of all of you, BonaResponds would only be a "good idea"

Ohio Updates

Things are firming up very nicely. As mentioned yesterday we will be working in Bucyrus Ohio.

As Bucyrus has about 100 homes that have not been cleaned out yet,
the work has changed slightly. Before the actual gutting can begin, everything has to be removed . So for the first few days it will be cleaning and hauling and "mucking" out houses in order to see what can and can not be saved. Additionally we will likely be on "Mold crews".

We will be staying at Camp Micheal about three miles outside of Bucyrus. It has cots, bathroom facilities, a shower, and a kitchen.

Here is a map to the site:

View Larger Map

We will leave SBU (Murphy Lot) at 5:00 PM. PLEASE be there to pack vans etc at 4:45.

We may have some free time on Saturday night if people want to go to a movie etc. so try to bring some spending money as well.

Here is a checklist of what we recommend you bring
  1. Work clothes--the older the better.
  2. Sleeping bag
  3. Work boots
  4. "Baseball" hat
  5. Gloves--work gloves and rubber gloves (some places have them available, but having a comfortable pair is well worth the money!)
  6. Protective eye wear and air masks (N-95 rated)
  7. Undergarments, a towel, and a pillow
  8. Flash light and cell phone charger
  9. Clothes--one or two changes of clothes (you will have to adjust to wearing dirty clothes some of the time--it's not a fashion show.
  10. Antibacterial hand sanitizer,"Baby Wipes", suntan lotion
  11. Food: while it is provided, having a few Energy bars and instant oatmeal etc will help you get by in a pinch.
  12. Reusable water bottle
  13. Spending money: there will be very limited chances to spend money, but the bus will be making some stops on the way down and back.
  14. A willingness to have fun while working hard! Probably the most important thing the bring!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Bucyrus Bound


We will be working in Bucyrus Ohio.

View Larger Map

The number one rule behind BonaResponds is to help people. I am not sure what other rules we have but I would venture that the number 2 rule is to be flexible. Plans change. Things do not work out as planned.

So it when I heard from the volunteer coordinator who asked if we had any great preference of where we were working. I explained we did know some people at Findlay, but that the biggest criteria had to be put us where we could do the most good. She explained that was Bucyrus, so that is where we will be going.

The work sounds challenging but I am sure it will be rewarding as well.

Details as to when and where will be announced tomorrow (Wednesday).

Bob's Woods Opening

Here are some pictures of Bob's Woods.

While the quality is not perfect, it is not that bad. It is about 23 minutes.

(the video accidentally got shut off at the end, so we have about 2 minutes on another video).
here is the second part

Bob's Woods Opening ceremony

Monday was the official opening of Bob's Woods. There was a ceremony that was held in conjunction with Francis Week. Brian McAllister, Pat Panzarella, and Fr. Dan Reilly spoke eloquently on the great man that Fr. Bob Stewart was. We will upload pictures and a video shortly.