Thursday, September 25, 2008

Register to free dinner and free concert

Here is the page to register if you are coming to the concert and free dinner on October 4th. RSVP now!

St. Bonaventure Alumni Community: "Honoring those who have contributed
to hurricane relief in the Gulf states

8 p.m., Bob Lanier Court, Reilly Center A"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Help BonaResponds when shopping

Welcome : GoodSearch and GoodShopping: support your favorite charity or school.

Just a reminder, you can support BonaResponds when you purchase goods at any of hundreds of stores. Just enter BonaResponds (all one word) as your charity of choice.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

We can't make things perfect, but we can make them better.

The BonaResponds Local Service weekend was this past weekend. While BonaResponds staked its claim to fame by making repeated trips to the Gulf Coast to help victims of Katrina, we have had made a successful transition to the point of being equally a home and in a far away disaster zone.

So what is a local service weekend? BonaResponds has many local service days, but only a few weekends a year. This is when the group works full days on both Saturday and Sunday helping the local community in a day that is modeled after work done in disaster zones from Iowa to Biloxi. The day begins with a quick meeting, then we break into different groups, work, and then get back together for a meal and to recap the day.

This semester’s work weekend included work at the following jobs:

  • Friendship: We helped Ed and Donna build a home which will replace their camper which has been their home for a year.
  • West Clarksville: Helped Mark build a home after a fire destroyed his home this past January.
  • Family Unity Center in Salamanca: painted room for children.
  • South Union Church: gutted a house that is being converted into a learning center and Vacation Bible School for children.
  • SPCA: cleaned stalls, walked dogs, and fed cats.
  • Olean Parks: Painted a wall to cover graffiti.
  • Olean Water Dept.: painted fire hydrants
  • Mount Ireaneus-cut back trees, cleaned interior logs on ceiling
  • SIMM room on campus: finished painting the Student in Money Management room
  • Bob’s Woods: trail creation and maintenance

Three of four jobs got postponed due to weather and yes we would have loved to have had more volunteers, but we did get much good work done. In fact one of our insider jokes for long has been “we may not make things perfect, but we can make them better.” Which sort of summarizes the weekend too. It was not perfect (Laura our student leader broke her ankle between Saturday and Sunday, many had signed up and did not show up, it rained all day Saturday), but ask those we helped and none of that matters. They are better now than they were at the start of the weekend, and that is all we can ever hope to achieve. So when measured by this important stat, the weekend was an amazing success.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Look at the progress!

Originally uploaded by Nif.
A shot from Friendship. Look at the progress! Way to go!

BonaResponds Local Service Weekend

Some of the many pictures from a successful (even with fewer volunteers than expected) kickoff to our local service weekend.

More pictures are available from Friendship that Jen took here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

This Weekend!! Local Service weekend!

This is it! The giant BonaResponds' local service weekend. Yes, not just one day, but two days of helping others and making the local area a better place! You will have fun and will get tons done!

Saturday September 13 10-5 (with free BBQ to follow)
Sunday September 14 11-5 (another free BBQ)

Transportation is going to be VERY tough, so if at all possible we would love you to help drive. Free parking is available behind the Murphy Professional building.

We highly recommend that you wear work clothes, boots, and a good pair of gloves.

We will work on most sites rain or shine, so do not let a few showers keep you away.

Running late? Come anyways. We will do our best to find you work.
Simple lunches of PB and Jelly and cold cut sandwiches, a granola bar, apple, and water will br provided, but we encourage you to bring your own as well (especailly water to reduce both expenses and waste).

We have had some changes in jobs due to cancellations and postponements but it will be a great day!

Dire Warning as Hurricane Ike Nears Texas -

Dire Warning as Hurricane Ike Nears Texas -
"Persons not heeding evacuation orders in single-family one- or two-story homes will face certain death,” the National Weather Service said in a local bulletin. “Many residences of average construction directly on the coast will be destroyed.”

The dire warning came as residents of Houston and Galveston rushed to board up their houses and move inland and Hurricane Ike moved closer to the two cities. By Friday morning, the unusually wide storm was more than 500 miles across and was rated Category 2, with 105 mile per hour winds at its center,"
This one looks really scary! Good luck to everyone down there. Hopefully it will not be as bad as forecasted.

More coverage from the Houston Chronicle.

Twitter / bonaresponds

Twitter / bonaresponds:

In another blatant "we can learn from HODR" plan, we have been using twitter to give updates to the web or to other phones quickly. It's free to "follow us" and I promise we won't use it too much (usually zero updates except around work days or disasters.

I think you will like it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ike flooding in Biloxi

Wow, I did not realize how large of storm surge Ike was generating.

Ike flooding:
"Photos from around the city as the Ike surge moves in during high tide, taken on the morning of Sept. 11, 2008. City of Biloxi photos by Vincent Creel."

Monday, September 08, 2008


Did you know BonaResponds has a page on the SBU website? Check it out. Tad too much emphasis on the big trip, but otherwise very nice!
SBU BonaResponds: "BonaResponds has grown from a Katrina relief mission to a volunteer organization that pitches in wherever help is needed."

Sunday, September 07, 2008

BonaResponds Local Day and upcoming Service Weekend

BonaResponds local Days
Emily and Bridget raising the roof!
BonaResponds had a great day working in West Clarksville and Friendship (both small towns about 40 minutes from campus).

We are helping build two homes. These projects will be part of next local service weekend (This coming Saturday and Sunday) as well. SO if you missed out, come out on Sept 13 and/or 14th.

More pictures of the work in Friendship and West Clarksville are available in this set, and from Jen's Flickr account.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

BonaResponds September Newsletter

BonaResponds Fall 2008: September newsletter

Executive Summary:

This Saturday small work day in West Clarksville (11 to 4)

September 13 and 14th Local Service Weekend: (10-5:00 on Sat, 12:00 to 5:00 on Sun.)

October 4: BonaResponds workday and New Orleans Jazz Concert.

October 10-14 Fall break Trip

Still to be determined: dates of several other local days TBA .

We wanted to start off the school year with a fast update of what is happening with BonaResponds to keep you all “in the loop”.

Looking back: This summer BonaResponds went on two emergency deployments with HODR (Hands On Disaster Response The first was in May when we worked in Newton County Missouri which had been hit hard by tornadoes and in July a larger group went to Iowa to help gut homes after the June floods in and around Cedar Rapids.

Details of each with pictures and videos can be seen on our website

Locally we also had several days of working on trails and a day on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation.

On August 23rd as part of SBU’s Welcome Days we had our first local service day that was made up almost entirely of incoming students with little or no experience. While only a small handful of leaders were back yet, the day was a success with the new volunteers stepping up and getting a great deal done. Overall we did not have as many volunteers as we expected, but did have volunteers at 10 sites, in 3 counties, and two states.

Pictures and videos are available here

Leaders: As in the past we have had turnover in leaders as last year’s leader (Carrie) graduated and moved on to work in NYC. This years’ student leaders are Laura McDowell and Emily Ciraolo. Also in the spirit of many hands make light work we have many other students who have expressed a willingness to help out as leaders. These include the usual suspects from the past but also many new ones who promise to keep BonaResponds fresh and exciting for years to come.

A few of the leaders that we will be have back Patrick, Steve, Jerry, Jen, Jen, Pat, and Caitlyn. They will no doubt provide the solid base that we can build off. Additionally John, Lauryn, Matt, Mike, Emily, and Allison have signed on as new leaders. As always, we are constantly looking for leaders, so if you want to help organize and lead please let us know. No experience or tie to SBU is needed! Just a willingness to work!

Looking ahead: Even before any disaster (as this is written there are a series of Hurricanes and tropical storms that will no doubt try to take priority), the Fall semester promises to be a busy year.

This fall we have a local service weekend planned for September 13th and 14th. For those of you who have never experienced a BonaResponds weekend you are in for a treat. Two days of hard work with friends (many of whom you just met). Our days are modeled after abbreviated days in disaster recovery zones. In the spring we had about 125 volunteers and we’d love to beat that this semester.

As all BonaResponds events, the local service weekend is open to everyone. We will meet in Murphy at 10:00 on Saturday, break into groups and work until about 4:00 or so at sites around the area. On Sunday the same happens, but the day starts a bit later at 11:00. We will provide a free BBQ after each day. Come dressed to work and ready to both make a positive difference and have a lot of fun!

Among the jobs we have lined up are working on building two homes in Allegany County, working at the SPCA, helping out at Archbishop Walsh, painting at several locations in the area (fire hydrants to hospital rooms!), gutting a house in S Olean, and much more. It will be a great opportunity to help!

On October 4th, there will be a big event for BonaResponds. A jazz band from New Orleans is coming to give a concert to thank us for the work we have done in the Gulf following Katrina. Since it is for past volunteers, many of whom have graduated, we will make a day of it. There will be a local service work day, followed by a mass, the concert, and then fireworks in conjunction with Francis Day celebrations. Plan on coming. It should be a fun day!

In addition to these planned days, we will no doubt other local days. One of our main priorities locally this semester is to get both families into their new homes by winter and there is a great deal of work on both homes needed.

The first house is in Friendship. Donna and Ed are both on disability and have had some bad luck. They have lived the last year in a camper. There lot was cleaned up by our volunteers this past weekend and we will continue to work with them over the future weekends.

The second house is in West Clarksville. The family’s previous house burned to the ground on January 3rd of this year. Mark, the owner, has had serious health issues (transplants and diabetes) and can use all the help we can give him.

The Fall break trip is currently scheduled for Iowa from October 10-14. We are in desperate need of drivers. The cost of the trip will be $100 and includes transportation. BUT as stated, we really need drivers who can drive University Vans. If you can make it we’d love to have you come. We plan on working in Cedar Rapids with Hands On Disaster Response ( We have worked with HODR many times in the past and they are simply wonderful. (They are in every way the model for BonaResponds). This July we worked with them gutting houses in Cedar Rapids, now we will be helping to rebuild and hanging drywall etc. It will be a nice to see the progress.

Alumni? Gone from campus? Meet us in Cedar Rapids. We can pick you up from the airport or you can drive. Either way it is a great way to spend a long weekend and get away from boring work for a while!

Other things are still being worked out, but we will be making a winter trip (exact dates and locations still being determined) and a Spring break trip as well. In the spring we would like to have another Buffalo Service day this time in coordination with volunteers from VillaMaria some of whose volunteers will be accompanying us on our winter trip.

Other points:

* We are looking to buy a small school bus for local days. The bus would look like the one in this link and cost less than $2500. If you can help donate to this, it would be a great help!.

(hey we’d LOVE to have a large bus too, but can not currently get it approved. If we do, it would make trip planning so much easier and cheaper. Any ideas or suggestions? Let us know. )

* Alumni, faculty, and community members are needed as leaders and role models. One of the things missing on recent big trips has been the leadership, maturity, and know-how of the non college aged volunteer. If you can come on a trip, your efforts are doubly appreciated!

* for local days we are always in need of skilled volunteers. We’d love to have anyone with carpentry skills, but can also use those who can work on bicycles to help with the SBU re-cycles program.

* Money is always an issue and donations are always appreciated, but if we had to choose, we’d rather have you come volunteer.

Ok, well that is longer than anticipated. Hope to see many of you at upcoming events. Remember BonaResponds is only a great idea without your help. We can help thousands of people, but can not do so without hundreds of volunteers. So please come out and help.


BonaResponds Friendship NY Pictures from Emily D.

In anticipation of our local service weekend coming up September 13th and 14th, Emily sent some of her pictures from the last local service day just before the start of school.

These pictures are from a site in Friendship where we are helping to build a house for Donna and Ed who have been living in a small trailer for over a year.

You can here what Ed had to say here.

More pictures and some video from the local day are also available. We have about 80 pictures from that day. If you volunteered and have pictures you would like online, please send them to

THIS SATURDAY! Help build a house!

In addition to next weekend's local service day, we'd like to take a small crew out to West Clarksville this Saturday to work on Mark's House.

If you remember, Mark has severe helth issues and needs several transplants. He lost his house (and dog) in a house fire this January. We are trying to help get him into his new house by winter.

Mike English (who was team leader at Mark's house for the Welcome Days local service day) suggested we go back this week and make a small dent in the work prior to the two day service weekend next week.

So after a few phone calls, we would like to take a crew out this Saturday from 11 to about 4:00. If you have transportation, great! We are trying to line up rides, but so far, nothing is certain.

If you would like to help this weekend, please email to reserve a spot.

Notice Board Announcement on Local Service Weekend

BonaResponds' Local Service weekend September 13th and 14th.

Come volunteer on sites that include helping to build two houses (one in West Clarksville, one in Friendship), work at the SPCA, work in parks, gut a house with local church group, and much more. Two days of work and fun!

Saturday Sept 13, 10-5. Sunday Sept 14th 11:00 to 5:00. Come for as long, or little as you want.

Open to all. Free BBQ after each day.

(in the spring we had over 125 volunteers. Lets top that this semester!)

Wear work clothes, boots, and gloves if possible. Open to all!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Biloxi's Sun Herald Photo Album

Gustav pushes ashore:
"A house on Howard Avenue on Point Cadet in Biloxi bears a sign showing the high water mark during Hurricane Katrina, well above the flooding caused by Hurricane Gustav."
About 100 pictures (93 but they will likely add more) from along the Gulf Coast.

Dodged the worst of it...

While there was significant damage in certain areas and flooding and storm damage is never minor if it happens to you, overall things could have been so much worse.

Some reports:

Time writes on Hancock County where there was significant flooding:

"Hancock County took a heavy hit from Hurricane Katrina, with cities like Pass Christian, Bay Saint Louis, and Waveland almost erased from the map. Today, three years later, the county is still struggling to recover, and Gustav has dealt yet another devastating blow. County public information officer Jim Keller said this storm's impact took them by surprise. "Wind damage is at a minimum, but we've got areas with 12 to 14 feet of flooding," Keller says. "We were thinking eight or nine feet." "
But in the same article they did stress that some things worked much better:
"a new Katrina-inspired pet initiative also drew praise. Misty Velasquez, director of development for the Humane Society, said a pet-friendly shelter opened this year, sparing many animals the fate of those left behind following Katrina."
Other reports:

CNN has snippets from up and down the coast.

The Dallas News Reports that about 100 homes were flooded in Pearlington.

Larry Orsini called to report that he saw a house on TV that he and Bonnie had worked on directly across from his levy breach in Plaquemines Parish. In fact he had called the people before the storm.

For those of you have been in Biloxi, here are some pictures that were posted of the storm:
Gustav, Monday morning

This Sun Herald report has stories of up and down the coast and a picture that will be familiar to anyone who worked in Pass Christian. I hope the home we worked on this January across RT 90 are ok!

So while the storm definitely pushed back an already long recovery, it could have been MUCH worse.