Thursday, December 31, 2009

A class project on BonaResponds

Vito and a group of Freshman "Pacioli Scholars" put together the following video. Very cool. Has interviews of a few leaders and of Ed and Donna who we helped locally, and video from Galveston.

YouTube - Bona Bubble - BonaResponds:
"Members of the Pacioli scholars at St. Bonaventure conduct interviews about the service organization that has done countless amounts of work in the community."

(and FTR we were not supposed to look at the camera. ;) )

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mike's "reflection piece"

We have asked many volunteers (indeed anyone can write, just email us), what BonaResponds means to them. Here is one from Mike English, who has volunteered with us countless times both locally and in Iowa. He is now an Americorps volunteer who helps organize BonaResponds as well. (He is a Junior Finance Major)

Reflection by Michael English

My first experience with BonaResponds was during the first semester of my freshmen year during a local day’s event. I had to go to a volunteer service for my freshmen 101 class and decided that this would be the best opportunity to satisfy the requirement for the class. Initially going into the program for the class I had absolutely no expectations to continuing participating with BonaResponds.

During the volunteering I actually enjoyed doing the work that I was doing, not because I was doing something somewhat fun but I became overwhelmed with a feeling of “goodness” that could have made performing the most boring and tedious task enjoyable. I realized that there is a need for people to help others. I honestly cannot describe the feeling that happens after you help a complete stranger in need, all I can say is that I challenge someone to help someone in need and not feel good about helping them at the end of the day.

I feel as though BonaResponds has provided me with a new opportunity to expand myself as a better person in our community. If it were not for the program I don’t think that I would have quite the same outlook on community service, selflessness, and volunteering. What used to be an idea that never crossed my mind has now become a priority to me. I believe that it is programs like BonaResponds that truly make us EXTRAORDIRNARY."

Leaving the Trailer - In Katrina’s Aftermath, Still a Struggle to Help - Series -

Leaving the Trailer - In Katrina’s Aftermath, Still a Struggle to Help - Series -
"Those who have succeeded have provided a valuable lesson to social workers in the region, one that they say the federal government has been slow to learn: it is not enough simply to give money, or rent vouchers, to people unable to strategize for themselves. Those who have achieved the most stability, like Ms. August, have had the most sustained kind of attention: caseworkers who make house calls, counseling, transportation, gentle encouragement and tough love. That kind of care has been the exception, not the rule."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Olean Times Herald's Coverage from Machias

OTH on the Eisenhardt project in Machias

"“It’s the best gift ever,” Vicki Eisenhardt said.

The home was customized to meet the needs of her family, especially her two sons, Dalton, 10, and Wyatt, 8, who both battle a rare genetic disorder that requires around-the-clock care.

Born with unbalanced translocation chromosome 15, a disease so rare that they may be the only ones in the U.S. who suffer from it, the boys have no sense of touch, and extensive lung damage has rendered them unable to speak. They use tracheotomy tubes to breathe, and feeding tubes to eat."

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Helping After the Tsunami | New Hampshire Public Radio | Word of Mouth

Helping After the Tsunami | New Hampshire Public Radio | Word of Mouth:
"David Campbell, an investment banker from Massachusetts, was one of them. His planned one-week trip to Thailand turned into a month-long stay. During that time, David helped manage new arrivals and eventually formed a volunteer-driven-non-profit. Since then, his group, Hands On Disaster Response, has worked in a dozen natural disaster zones. David joins us from Carlisle, Mass. with more"

Listen here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009 | Buffalo, NY | A New Home for Christmas | Buffalo, NY | A New Home for Christmas:
"A customized home was built in Machias for the Eisenhardt family. The family has three children, two have a rare disorder requires around-the-clock care.

Dalton, 10 and Wyatt, 8, are so happy to be in a new home. It was built by volunteers since October.

and look at this!!!

"The new home is already paying off. The family has noticed with a better clean air system in the house, the boys need less suctioning from the tracheotomy tubes."

Great job everyone!! Especially CYC, Pete, and the American Legion.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Thank you from Salamanca

Rose in Salamanca (the Paint job) sent the following:

" I am so late in my thanks, and I am very sorry....[I want to] thank the many volunteers that painted my house this last year. This was done through BonaResponds. I have been very ill and slowly getting back on my feet.

What a great asset to your University. I needed so much help on my house and someone told me about your group. God bless all of you for your help...."


Fall Semester Recap

Fall Semester Recap/Newsletter

"BonaResponds WNY: With no major national disaster, the focus this semester was on helping locally. We worked in Olean, Allegany, Hinsdale, Portville, Cuba, Friendship, Little Valley, Salamanca, Gowanda, Jamestown, and Machias. And remember that is just this semester!"

Read the rest of the newsletter here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Video of A Makeover in Machias | WKBW News 7: News, Sports, Weather - Buffalo, New York | Local News

A Makeover in Machias | WKBW News 7: News, Sports, Weather - Buffalo, New York | Local News:
"Since October, countless volunteers worked diligently to build the Eisenhardt family a dream home. Even though the home is complete, some exterior work needs to be finished. Anyone interested in donating can visit: or ."

Here is the video from WKBW:

Monday, December 21, 2009

'Machias Makeover' aids family in need : Home: The Buffalo News

'Machias Makeover' aids family in need : Home: The Buffalo News:
"..for the past two months, another remarkable makeover has been happening in Machias...Webb and Vicki Eisenhardt on Saturday moved into the 3,800-square-foot house customized for their two sons, Dalton, 10, and Wyatt, 8, who are both battling a rare genetic disorder that requires around-the-clock care.

'I love it,' Vicki Eisenhardt said.

'It's pretty unbelievable,' her husband added.

The Eisenhardts also have a 16-year-old son, Tyler."

Read the whole thing!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Family gets home for the holidays - Local -

Family gets home for the holidays - Local -
"With three volunteer camps in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties, the organization has built more than 100 new homes and has renovated more than 12,000 homes throughout South Mississippi since August 2005. With the help of more than 160,000 national and international volunteers through the United Methodist connection, the disaster response team will be aiding Gulf Coast recovery and rebuilding efforts well into 2010."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

BonaResponds' volunteer in the news

A nice article on Kacey Weafer who has volunteered with us in MS and TX.

SCITUATE AROUND TOWN: A great note from Crowley - Scituate, MA - Scituate Mariner:
"In October, Katherine Weafer, daughter of San and Kevin Weafer of Scituate, began work on her first service project of the year with the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), an AmeriCorps program. Katherine is working with the Crown King Fire Department in Crown King, Ariz., and the team’s focus is on wild land fire prevention....“I chose to do a term of national service after participating in my university's community service program, Bona Responds,” she said. “I had done two relief trips to Mississippi after Katrina as well as Galveston, Texas, and saw what people went through and wanted to give back.”

Way to go Kacey!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Thank you from (and to) Pete

From Pete Andrews

"It has been a true pleasure and blessing working with everyone...see you in late January at the House Warming Party. Date will be set early Jan. Have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed new Year! The CYC, American Legion and the whole Eisenhardt Project Team."
Pete, I am sure every volunteer would say the same to you. You made it a great project to work on! Thanks.

BonaResponds to help build children’s home in Georgia

BonaResponds to help build children’s home in Georgia:
"BonaResponds will help rebuild Leigh Cottage, a children’s home destroyed in a fire two years ago. When the cottage reopens, it will be used to house youth in the United Methodist Men’s Group’s Independent Living Program.

“It is going to be a great opportunity for us to help and for our volunteers to use some of the skills that they have developed building homes locally and helping this semester in Machias,”...“I am sure that the trip will be a very rewarding experience for the volunteers and, more importantly, a big help for the children and families who need the help in the Atlanta area.”"

Friday, December 11, 2009

SBU president addresses common heritage in talk at Mayo Clinic

So I guess BonaResponds has a LONG LONG tradition! I had no idea.

SBU president addresses common heritage in talk at Mayo Clinic:
"It was following a devastating tornado in Rochester in 1883 that a nun, Mother Mary Alfred Moes, presented a plan for a hospital to Dr. William Worrall Mayo. Mother Alfred had been sent to Rochester as a member of a new congregation, the Sisters of St. Francis, established by Fr. Pamphilo da Magliano, one of the founders of St. Bonaventure University.

The Mayo Clinic’s annual Franciscan Lecture is held to remind Mayo Clinic leaders and staff of their Franciscan heritage"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Machias on Saturday is postponed

From Pete:

"We have a pending storm and our fears are to have people traveling to the celebration and have an accident. Due to forecast of up to 31 inches of snow we will have to postpone the festivities on Saturday. We will be weather permitting on Sunday at noon moving the family in with no celebration planned but anyone who wishes to assist in the move please call Pete at CYC.... Sorry for the change but due to circumstances we need to make this call at this time with the information we currently have. Please let everyone aware of this change and information about new date and time will be fourth coming. Thanks for your cooperation in this manner. Pete Andrews and the Eisenhardt Project Team"

BonaResponds seems to do pretty well in this area

United Nations Foundation » New Technologies in Emergencies and Conflicts: The Role of Information and Social Networks:
"Our latest report -- New Technologies in Emergencies and Conflicts: The Role of Information and Social Networks -- looks at innovation in the use of technology along the timeline of crisis response, from emergency preparedness and alerts to recovery and rebuilding.

It profiles organizations whose work is advancing the frontlines of innovation, offers an overview of international efforts to increase sophistication in the use of IT and social networks during emergencies, and provides recommendations for how governments, aid groups, and international organizations can leverage this innovation to improve community resilience"

Two things in this area that we can easily do better:
  1. Getting more volunteers to follow on twitter (and have tweets go to phone during emergencies)
  2. Forming a new sub-emergency group/communication system--example after a big storm, a group that would respond fast.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

More information on our Atlanta trip

BonaResponds will be going to Atlanta Georgia to help build the United Methodist Children's home. The home was destroyed by fire in 2007. The work will be everything from installing insulation, rough wiring, and with luck (depending how far we get) drywalling. And I am sure much more. Additionally, there may still be some flood clean-up. Depending on the turn out we will also like to

These skills are all readily learned and no experience is necessary. We are in particular need of people over 25 years old to help drive vans to and from the Airport. additionally, we will be responsible for our own cooking, so anyone who likes to cook for large numbers of people, please come!

The trip will be from January 3 to 14. You can come for as long or as short as you like. We will arrange for transportation to and from the airport. The cost of the trip is $50 (to cover food) plus airfare (you will be responsible for arranging the air transportation).

There is a meeting to discuss the trip on Thursday December 10th, at 5:30 in the Dresser Auditorium C in Murphy. Please come. Given the late date, we will not have time to have another meeting so please make every effort to attend. If you really can not attend, please contact Steve Gearhart at

For more information, please see our blog

Remember we really need faculty and staff to come to help drive. If you can come, we'd really appreciate it and YOU will really like it!

The United Methodist Children's Home

This is where we will be working in Georgia:

The United Methodist Children's Home:
"Thanks to the efforts of United Methodist Men and GlenCastle Constructors and the generosity of countless friends of the Home, the rebuilding of Leigh Cottage (which was destroyed by a fire in 2007) is going great! Click here for more details and photos of the construction."

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Updates on March 27, 2010 National BonaResponds Service Day

March 27th is the date of First annual BonaResponds National Service Day.

We are asking past BonaResponds Volunteers and all SBU alumni to volunteer in their own region that day to make the world a better place.

Ideally you get together with other Bona Alumni and share a day of helping and reconnecting with SBU, but if you do not know others in your area, you can simply go volunteer somewhere.

We just announced this last Thursday and already the idea has taken root quickly and we have events being planned in Buffalo, Chicago, Charlotte, Singapore, Northern New Jersey, and NYC.

We also have several possibles around the country. But we'd love to have many many more and if we can help facilitate this in any way, please do not hesitate to ask.

Our website has some info on the alumni event and it regularly updated.

All BonaResponds events are open to all, so even if you did not go to SBU please take part. We'd love to have yo along! Especially Villa Maria alumni, HODR alums, and any of the thousands of people we have volunteered with in the past.

Thank you very much for any and all assistance you can give :)

If you want to host an event, please let us know. We'd love to have many many more sites where people can volunteer!

It can be something as simple as going to a soup kitchen and "taking a shift" or as complex as running an entire volunteer "day" with hundreds of volunteers.

I realize that you are all busy and that many of you (and your alumni chapters) already have service days planned etc, but please at least consider it before dismissing the idea. :)

A BonaResponds workday follows the general idea given to us on our first trip to Biloxi with HODR. The entire group gets together in the AM (not too early as we sort of have a tradition of not being great "morning" people ;) ), then breaking up into teams that go to various work sites, work for 5-6 hours, then get back together and have a meal/meeting where each team tells the others about the work they did (sort of takes on some reflection characteristics and we have even had volunteers cry when saying the work they accomplished (hey there is a new slogan, "lets go make them cry!")).

DO NOT be concerned with the size of your event, one work site is great, you do not need to shoot for the sky, any help is better than none!). Honestly, one of our sayings is always "better not perfect". If we waited till we got perfect plans, nothing would ever get done.

Ideally this could also get more alumni involved in our trips (trust me, they are absolutely a great experience!).

If your group can not volunteer that day, then feel free to do any other day in the same time frame. My second choice would be in conjunction with our annual Spring Local Service Weekend (3 days of volunteering the week before Spring weekend April 23-25). But really whenever, just please let us know and please send pictures and recaps that we can share with all of the other volunteers.

The reason we chose March 27th was that that is when we are having our 3rd annual BonaResponds-Buffalo Day (FYI the Buffalo alumni also have other service days throughout the year and we'd love to coordinate a bit on those too). In Buffalo we will be working out of Villa Maria for the second year and working at many locations in the Buffalo area. (We have averaged about 100 volunteers a year in each of the first two years we have been there. See

As a means of collecting stories and making it more meaningful for all, I would love to get pictures/videos from all the sites to put on our web as well as a short report (what we did, how many, etc) and any stories/reflection pieces that the volunteers may contribute.

Also we will be selling t-shirts for all the volunteers though the generosity of Michelle Gregg (a SBU Alum) whose UndergroundShirts company will be giving the shirts to us at cost.

So what do you think? Interested? I really think it is going to be cool. Thousands of SBU alumni all helping on the same day and then being able to share the experience. It would also be something that once started will likely grow and become an anticipated event in future years. But you can be in on the ground floor!

If you have any other ideas of how I can (or more generally BonaResponds can) help make it happen, please do not hesitate to let us know.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Volunteering, it's all good--report from Machias by Jen

BonaResponds split into two teams today. One went to Friendship, the other to Machias. Here is Jen's report from Machias along with a some pictures.

“I don’t know what we’re doing. That’s alright, whatever it is, we’ll do it well!”

I heard a volunteer say this as we stood just inside the doors at Murphy waiting for everyone to arrive this morning. It was cold and “early” on a Saturday morning. I knew we would have good work for the day – both Machias and Friendship projects were moving along well and Pete and Ed (aka “Little Chief”) were well organized. The specific jobs had not yet been communicated to the volunteers, so they had no idea what they’d be doing, but that made no difference - they were there and ready to help.

I love that about volunteering – it just makes you feel optimistic and flexible and ready to go. The more you volunteer, the more you realize how good it feels to help others… you just want to keep doing it. If you haven’t been out with BonaResponds, please come out. You won’t regret it and you will help someone who could really use a hand. And, you can come out as little or as much as you’d like (but trust me, you’ll be back! :))

The Machias group today started by sorting out a large pile of siding – some new, some used – most of which will be installed on the house soon. We then traveled down to the “old house” to dissemble the playground set, which involved taking off a swing set, rock climbing wall, and other pieces and then loading the remaining large frame onto a trailer. We also loaded on the boys’ John Deere carts and other toys from the backyard as they watched and cheered us on from the back window (It was very cold today and the boys have been sick, so they didn’t work with us today like they usually do!).

The second trip with the trailer was a bit trickier. On this trip, we were working at the very back of the yard, loading cinder blacks, flagstone, etc. An assembly line spontaneously formed, and we filled the trailer right up. Between the heavy load and the wet ground though, we had a little difficulty getting going. But, Pete is resourceful and we managed to push (by hand) and tug (with a truck) and get out. During this time, we also had a few minutes to visit “the boys” who had just helped Tyler celebrate his 16th birthday.

Dalton and Wyatt were animated and cheerful as we talked with them and Vicki about getting ready for the move and the big Moving Day next Saturday. Dalton hasn’t decided yet if he wants to ring the bell on the fire truck, but they were both very excited about the fire truck ride!

The remainder of the day we spent at the new house, painting the baseboards and door frames in Tyler’s room, the master bedroom, sitting room, and closet. Many others were there working today too on the lighting, smoke alarms, and finishing work. The house is coming along very nicely and is really looking fantastic.

Overall we had a great crew today – lots of fun and great work.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Signup form for this Saturday's Service Day

While we will accept you even if you do not register in advance, it really makes life easier if you do sign up.

Here is what was sent to the Notice-Board.

BonaResponds this weekend!

BonaResponds will be working this Saturday. We have work to finish in Friendship and in Machias. Friendship work will be painting, varnishing, and putting in the final flooring. There is also work for a few volunteers in Machias on Saturday (maybe more on Sunday).

We will leave from the Murphy Parking lot at 10:00AM. We will be back before dark. Food will be provided. Dress for inside and outside work.

Additionally, we will be making an announcement on Winter Break by Monday of next week. Frequent volunteers will get priority in going on the trip which will likely be limited.

For more information (and to keep current about Sunday) please see our website ( and follow us on Twitter

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Save the date! December 12 in Machias!!

From Pete:
"December 12th Saturday, will be a big day all involved and anyone interested in seeing the final project completed in Machias, NY. Everyone is invited to "Move-in Day" with the Eisenhardts. Be a part of the big day, Open House from 8am to Noon come tour their new home just before they move-in. Then at 1pm a line of volunteers will proceed from Eisenhardts old apartment to their new home approx 1/2 mile north on rt 16 lead by the boys getting a ride in Daltons wish, a big red fire truck. Delivering all their furniture and belongings moving them in, in one very short amount of time.
Be part of the big day and enjoy this event as a community that has come together for these two boys and their family!"

Friday, November 27, 2009

GA flood recovery to last months - Disaster News Network

GA flood recovery to last months - Disaster News Network:
"Asked how people outside of Georgia can help with response efforts, “Go through the disaster response organization that is connected to your church synagogue or mosque.” Tribble advised. “If you coordinate your volunteer desire through an existing organization you can do a tremendous help to the (survivors) here, and you can do that that no matter what state you’re in,” Tribble said."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Machias pictures

Dalton and Rob
Originally uploaded by FinanceProfessor.
Over three hundred pictures from our work in Machias.

I was just reminded that some of you do not follow us on Twitter, so I should also bog it.

(update 11/26--Link fixed, thanks)

My guilt trip

Note the date This is about My Guilt Trip, the trip of last Tuesday evening.

Tuesday November 17th.

I did not want to go volunteer today. I had plenty of reasons to say no. I was tired from two days in Machias this past weekend. I had too much to do--I wanted to run, to go to the YMCA, to eat dinner, do laundry. Oh and I had things I "had" to do as well: go to the store and make a test.

So when I got an email from Pete Andrews the head of the Christian Youth Corps in Machias asking for any available volunteer to come help get ready for tomorrow's drywallers, I mentally dismissed it with a simple "I can't, I am too busy".

That said, I figured the least I could do was pass the request on to other volunteers who might not be as busy and might be able to go. So I tweeted the request. I did not expect much, if any response: SBU played St. Johns in the first big game of the year, I was giving them almost no notice, and it was a school night the week before Thanksgiving break so there would be many mid-term exams to study for and papers to write. "No, no one will be able to go. I am in good company by not going. They are all busy too. "

But then, something happened. Within an hour I got a call saying that one of the people who had read the tweet wanted to go and could drive. "OK, I will contact Pete and tell him you are coming, but I still can not go. I am too busy" I told her.

Then I got a text, and then another, and then another. More and more people wanted to go. I was feeling more and more guilty. The other volunteers, by their great example were guilting me into going. So I began to think I might go, but my heart was not really into it. I felt guilty about my weak excuses, I felt guilty about not wanting to go. I felt selfish for wanting to do my own thing before responding to this call for help.

In the end, I decided to go, but it was far from an easy decision.

Upon our arrival in Machias we all got to work. The main tasks for the evening were to clean out the upstairs and then help to wire and insulate the basement so that the dry wallers could do their thing starting at 7 AM the next morning.

I warmed to the job but felt somewhat "out of it". The other volunteers clearly had good work and were working with the electricians etc, but my jobs were more of the "what can he do without messing up too much" variety.

So I swept up and located tools for the other volunteers. But as I did I occasionally suffered from cognitive dissonance and found myself thinking more and more that I should have stayed home. I had work to do, the drive made the trip uneconomical. If I had wanted to do BonaResponds work, I had many projects online that needed doing without the added time spent on the drive. I should have stayed and done them.

As person voted "most likely to mess up on the job", one of my jobs was to make sure the others had tools when they were needed. On one of my tool locator walk-arounds I went outside looking for Pete, when suddenly "the boys" came around the corner of the house. I am not sure who saw who first, but Wyatt and Dalton waved and the smile on their faces almost matched the smile on mine.

Suddenly the trip, and even the promised late late night of test making was worth it and then some.

The next few hours flew by. the work, which only minutes before has seemed trivial and meaningless was terrific and important. I could not even believe I had not wanted to do this.

So to the BonaResponds volunteers who guilted me into going tonight, thank you. You not only made their house, you made my day.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wordle - BonaResponds

Well I can not get this to link correctly, but it is the Wordle from our blog. Check it out. Pretty cool:

Community gives the gift of a new home |

Note their shirts! :)

Community gives the gift of a new home |
"In Machias, people come together to build a new home for the boys in an effort to make their lives more comfortable....

The American Legion and Christian Youth Corps have been leading the effort.

The work being done is made possible by an extended family opening its collective heart and wallet.

'Small donations come together to do this. Probably our average donation is around $25.00,' Pete remarked.

On this day, the boys as they are known in the community, have fun with the volunteers."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Students reach out to family in Machias - Features

From the BV: Students reach out to family in Machias - Features:
"'We wrapped the house and basement in Tyvek, insulated, poured cement, removed nails, readied the house for drywall and helped move a fence,' Mahar said.

But for the student volunteers, the trip was much more than just construction.

'We're not just building a house, we're working on these boys' lives,' said Rob Ryer, a junior physical education major....'It was emotional,' said Emily Deragon, a sophomore journalism and mass communication major. 'It's not just their house - it's their school and the place of their physical therapy.'"
and later:
"BonaResponds [will] return to the Eisenhardts on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Interested volunteers should meet behind the Murphy Professional Building. For more information, pictures and video, visit the BonaResponds blog at"
And later (a slightly corrected ending--from Steve)

"Just go...," Gearhart urged. "You'll feel good and have a good time, but most importantly you will help some good people, and that's the main point."

MACHIAS update- have vans for

MACHIAS update- have vans for Sunday. . leaving back of Murphy at 10, back by dark. open to all. work=painting

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New pictures from Machias....from Pete

Christian Youth Corps Inc.:
"This week we had new volunteers coming in ...[from] starting on Sunday BonaResponds from Olean made the trip up to pitch in and lend a hand at the project...."
It goes on to list the scores of organizations who have helped. All deserve a big round of applause!

BTW: I have hundreds of pictures to put up. Just need to get some school work done first.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

BonaResponds Machias (the Eisenhardt project)

First the important stuff:

BonaResponds is going back to Machias. This Saturday and Sunday.


We will be again helping the Christian Youth Corps on their "Eisenhardt project." Dalton and Wyatt Eisenhardt have a rare (and serious) genetic problem (the transmutation of chromosomes). Due to medical expenses (for instance they need nursing care around the clock), the family could not afford a house and were renting a house that needed much work. After examining the case, the CYC decided it was better to build a new house than to repair the existing dwelling. So on October 14th, they broke ground. With help and donations from throughout the area, the progress has been amazing and it is hoped to have the family in their NEW house by Christmas.

The American Legion, Christian Youth Corps, and many many many others are but some those tht have gotten together to build them a new house on the grounds of the First Christian Church in "downtown" Machias. BonaResponds was fortunate to be allowed to help and our workday last Sunday was great (pictures, video).

It was such good work that we are going back this weekend. Both days we will leave at 10:00 AM from behind Murphy Building on the SBU campus.

Other things:

Here is the Buffalo News Article on the family.

Here is the link to the Christian Youth Corps. It was our first time working with the Christian Youth Corps and it was GREAT. Amazing well organized and have volunteers from all walks of life helping. GREAT GREAT GREAT. Hope we get to work with them many times in the future. Pete, you are doing great work! BTW here are some of their YouTube videos.

Our announcement that will be on the SBU Notice-Board

BonaResponds Machias

The great success of last week's trip to Machias means we are going back. The main crew will leave 10:00 Sunday from the back of Murphy. We will return about 4pm. Due to high demand, we will also be taking a group on Saturday at 10:00 (same time and place). You can attend either or both days. You will have fun. You will make a huge difference in the lives of Dalton and Wyatt both of whose smiles you will never forget.
for more information (including videos and pictures of last weekend's work day) see the BonaResponds blog at

If you know when and if you are coming, please email so we can have an idea on food and work schedules.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

BonaResponds-October 2009 video

A video of SOME of the work we did in October 2009.

Yes I cut the length of this. One section of the original version (still available here) was repeated.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Foundations-an essay on BonaResponds from Phil

Foundations by Phil Penepent

My first experience with BonaResponds was on Spring Break during my freshman year (Spring 2008). I went with a group of nearly 100 volunteers to Pearlington Mississippi and assisted in building new houses for Hurricane Katrina Victims. On our way we stopped in Pass Christian to drop off a dozen of our people for the week.

Everyone got off the bus at the base camp there to take a look around. I began wandering and ended up across the street. What I found was an eerie sight at first: a whole foundation, no house attached, with the words “don’t demolish, will rebuild” spray painted to the front. That foundation wasn’t the only one I saw that week that still didn’t have a house on top of it in Mississippi. While I worked on rebuilding houses I reflected on that first foundation I saw. Those unmovable foundations made me realize that if you build a strong enough foundation in life, nothing will be able to rock it and you can always rebuild.

This lesson has become a driving force for me back here at Bonas. I do whatever it takes to get the most out of the education I receive in order to build a solid foundation for the rest of my life. I am lucky to have taken away a lesson like this and be able to make it into a mission statement for this unique period in my life.

A solid foundation for me has meant achievement in the classroom, studying abroad in Italy last semester, obtaining valuable internships, and being actively involved in my community.

In retrospect, that barren foundation had a big effect on me so far. I had not even begun volunteering with BR at that point and I was already learning life lessons. By being involved I have recognized that BonaResponds is part of my extraordinary story and I continue to take an active role in the organization. BR allowed me to break out of my shell as a freshman while making some very close friends. Since my first Gulf Coast trip I have become a leader on numerous local service days in Buffalo, Olean, Friendship, and Salamanca. I really enjoy recruiting people to volunteer with us and talking about my experiences!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

What are you doing this Weekend?

There are many opportunities to volunteer!

1. You could help in Machias building a new home for the Eisenhardt a family that has had almost unbelievably bad health issues.

2. You could Go to Friendship and help Ed and Donna move items to finish their floor. (BTW they have qualified for a NYS Conservation Assistance program and will be getting a new energy efficient furnace plus more insulation.)

3. You could take part in hunger walk leaving from the Warming House.
"This Sunday - Olean Area Walk for Hunger Relief

Please consider walking in the

Olean Area Walk for Hunger Relief this Sunday, Nov 8, at 2 p.m., to aid local emergency food providers. The three mile walk begins and ends from the Warming House. Get information, including pledge sheet, in the RC from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday, or contact Trevor Thompson, X2601"

4. Weather permitting, you could go put on the final coat of paint on the wheel chair ramp and back porch for Jim and Beverly in East Olean.

5. You could help BonaResponds help others, by putting together our shelves and organize our storage room (note: drywall screws do not go with signs and clothing!)

6. You could work on the Trails through Bob's Woods. Need dirt laid down, some branches clipped back, and for the really ambitious, some signs made.

7. If you are in Buffalo you could help Buffalo ReUse take down a house in 24 hours. Yes, they are working late night! From Buffalo Rising:
"ReUse will begin deconstruction on Sunday, November 8th, the day after the announcement. They're calling for volunteers on Sunday from about 10am until midnight, but the greatest need will be from 10am-4pm"

So get out and do something! Life is too short to sit around and watch TV. (and besides, the Bills are on a bye week ;) )

For information on these opportunities come to our meeting at 5:15 on Thursday in Murphy Aud C, or watch the blog and Twitter updates)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Go Pro Bono to Rescue Morale - Sylvia Ann Hewlett - Harvard Business Review

Go Pro Bono to Rescue Morale - Sylvia Ann Hewlett - Harvard Business Review:
"In late September, Moody's kicked off a philanthropic program which is set to both burnish its brand and enhance its ability to hold onto top talent through a tight alignment with its core value proposition. Developed in partnership with respected nonprofit, the new initiative brings Moody's expertise in assessing creditworthiness to Kiva's large network of microfinance partners around the world. These microfinance institutions do much to alleviate poverty by serving as conduits for loans of just a few hundred dollars to individual small business owners, and also by servicing those microloans."

Yes we are still trying to get our program approved. It is going on a year. Not sure what takes attorneys so long.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Volunteer opportunity to help local SPCA

Help make pizzas to help the SPCA

BonaResponds was asked if we could get some volunteers for the annual Pizza Sale for the Cattaraugus County SPCA. Last year they made (and sold) 800 pizzas as a fund raiser for the local no-kill animal shelter. The pizza making is 12-4 on Sunday at the Pulaski Club in North Olean.

For more info see

A thank you from the "Olean Basement job"

To All of the Wonderful Amazing volunteers of BonaResponds,

Words can't express our gratitude and thanks to you, and all the wonderful, amazing volunteers who came and helped us in our time of need.

We can't believe that you wouldn't have taken one look at how bad our basement was and turned around and left. It was in such terrible shape and the water and sewer and mold damage on years and years of junk made it so much worse.

It is unbelievable that you all stayed and dedicated your whole day and night to clean everything out of our basement, hosing it all down and bleaching it.

It's hard to believe you didn't run away screaming in terror.

You are all so amazing and wonderful! It's so reassuring to find out there are still such wonderful, caring people in the world. We were certainly blessed to find all of you wonderful people to help us!

The words "Thank You" seem so inadequate and empty for everything you did for us. We will never be able to thank you enough, but you all have our undying and heartfelt gratitude.

God Bless You All for the terrific job you all did and the "miracle" you worked for us!!!!

Thank You So Much!!!


"The Sweeten Family"

Monday, October 19, 2009

George H.W. Bush, Obama Celebrate Volunteerism -

Volunteerism cuts across all lines and is good for everyone. So come out and volunteer!

George H.W. Bush, Obama Celebrate Volunteerism -
"Friday, Obama stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Bush's father, the 41st president, in a joint celebration of volunteerism and civic involvement that hinted at a possible thaw that might yet emerge between the two camps.

At Texas A&M University, during a commemoration of George H.W. Bush's call to service in his 1989 inaugural address, Obama heaped praise on the former president for offering a 'vision that's changed lives across this country.'"

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thank you for work during Livestrong Days

We got the following Thank-You card in the mail today.

Thank You

It's hard to find words
that would even begin
to thank you enough
for how thoughtful you've been.

...I can not find words enough to express my thanks for your [BonaResponds] team that spent almost a whole day on my property working constantly all the time they were here. I could never have afforded to have someone do all the works that they accomplished. When you get to the point where I am in my life, and I know I am not alone, [I just] "Thank God" for people like...your workers. I wish there was something I could do for each and everyone of them.

They are certainly welcome to come here here to just enjoy the property anytime they wish. My dogs enjoyed having then her also....

If you could please give each and everyone of them my thanks.

God bless you and your people,

Sincerely, Carol (and Rick)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jim's speech in Gowanda

Jim gave a speech at the Recovery Celebration in Gowanda.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Gowanda Essay: Thanks for being here

October 9: Remember back 6 weeks ago I said I would be writing a series of reflective essays about our work in Gowanda? Well, between school starting, other BonaResponds events, a finance club trip to NYC, and some family things, I got side tracked. But I would like to share at least of the thoughts with you, so I will write them up as time permits.

Gowanda August 23, 2009

BonaResponds has traveled the country to help people recover after natural disasters. After these disasters we have helped people by gutting houses, cutting downed trees, putting on new roofs, building sheds, drywalling, painting, and even occasionally helping people move back into their refurbished homes. The interesting thing is, that almost without exception, those we are helping tell us, generally fighting back tears, that our just being there was as important as the work we actually accomplished. That our presence gave them hope and the energy energy necessary to fight the next round of battles in the long road to recovery.

This message has been drilled into volunteers on every trip: talking to the survivors, listening to their stories, and just being there is important. As the leader of BonaResponds, I understood the importance, but I confess I never truly believed it. Oh sure, I knew psychology mattered and talking helped, but the real real reason for us being there, the way we really helped, was the dirty, physical work. Or so I believed.

Today that view was forever changed. I was on the other side of receiving help. I had over-committed BonaResponds. Expecting more volunteers that we got, I committed to several jobs around town, but the first (and largest) was mucking out an enormous basement down on Main St.

After about 2 hours of struggling with the eight inches of mud that blanketed the three giant rooms, it became apparent that we were not going to be able to finish the job, let alone the others that were waiting.

And then, almost miraculously, help arrived in the form of the Community Gang #103 from the Collins Correctional Facility. And a funny thing happened, as the crew lifted buckets of mud, they also lifted out spirits. As they pushed wheel barrows, they pushed us to do more.

Sooner than could have been imagined, the job was done. As we all shared a meal on the front porch, we thanked the work crew for all the help. I hope they realize we were thanking them for more than just the physical effort. We were thanking them for being there and for giving us the energy to continue on to the next job.

PSA on benefits of Volunteering by Gwyneth Paltrow

YouTube - iParticipate: Blythe Danner and Gwyneth Paltrow celebrate the health benefits of volunteering.:
"Actresses and mother-daughter pair Blythe Danner and Gwyneth Paltrow celebrate the health benefits of volunteering."

For those on the Fall Break trip

BonaResponds Fall Break

For those who are going on the BonaResponds Fall Break trip, meet at 5pm over near the maintenance garage. Be sure to bring warm work clothes, boots, a sleeping bag.

For those who want to work a part of the trip, you can meet us in Gowanda on Saturday at 10 or following on Jamestown St (near Chestnut--big house). For later dates, please check our blog ( nightly) or twitter account (update many times a day) for regular updates.

We will be working in the Olean area on Monday and Tuesday.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Quotes quotes and more quotes

Comments given in various interviews over the past few days

* "The Fall Break trip is a staple of BonaResponds. We were formed over a fall break and have gone to Mississippi, Ohio, and Iowa. This year with no disasters in region, staying in WNY is a great opportunity. We can finish up work in Gowanda as well as help some people locally."

* I"n some ways a local "trip" is the best of both worlds. We get to help people and have fun doing it, without the costs and stress of traveling half way across the country."

* "One of our local jobs in Olean will be to finish up a wheel chair ramp for a woman who has not been able to go outside by herself in over a year. It will give her more freedom and improve her lifestyle."

* "Another job will be cleaning out the basement of an elderly Olean woman. It is a sad story that is largely a replay of what we did last year in Cowenango Valley. The basement needs to be cleaned out before a new furnace can be installed. It may not be the most glamorous job in the world, but it is a vital step to getting this woman heat. She went last winter without it."

* "It will be a great weekend: good work and good fun. The jobs are good and I am sure the volunteers will not only help others, but have a great time doing so."

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Volunteerism is a changin' - Belleville Intelligencer - Ontario, CA

Volunteerism is a changin' - Belleville Intelligencer - Ontario, CA:
"....The recent trend is volunteers are also professionals that want to give back to the community they live in.

Volunteers come from all walks of life and have a variety of skills to offer. Volunteers seek opportunities in the community for a variety of reasons such as filling a void, gaining experience, building resumés and exploring career opportunities to name a few.

Volunteer positions are available on a daily, weekly or monthly basis."

Monday, October 05, 2009

BonaResponds Fall break 2009 trip!

Good news! There have been no major disasters of late locally or nationally! EXCELLENT!

Now with that in mind, it allows us to think about what BonaResponds can do this fall break without pressure of having to get somewhere to help those in an emergency situation.

BonaResponds is staying local! That's right our fall break trip is to Western New York!

But before you roll your eyes and say I am not interested, consider that you will have the fun of a trip without the travel and cost!

In the past students have given the following reasons for going on trips with us:

  1. to help others in a time of need
  2. to have fun
  3. to meet new friends
  4. to hang out with old friends
  5. to learn new skills
  6. to build a resume
  7. to experience new things
  8. to save the expense of a long trip home
And guess what? Each of these is met and even better, we will be able to do it without sitting in a van for countless hours!

BonaResponds | Home Page:
"This fall break, we'll be working between Gowanda and locally. Check out our tentative agenda below... it's full of good work and good fun!! Won't you join us? And bring a friend! Please sign up here.

Friday 10/9 - Camping in Gowanda

* 5 PM - 8 PM: Work Evening in Gowanda

Saturday 10/10 - Camping in Gowanda
* 10 AM - 3 PM: Work Day in Gowanda
* 4 PM - ???: Thank You Celebration - Complete with Parade, Fireworks, and Barbecue.... live music, Ruben Brown, great fun!!!

Sunday 10/11 - Camping at Allegany State Park
* 10 AM - 4 PM: Work Day in Gowanda

Monday 10/12 (Columbus Day) - Camping at Allegany State Park

* 9 AM - 5 PM: Work Day Locally
Tuesday 10/13
* 10 AM - 3 PM: Work Day Locally"

Bring sleeping bags and work clothes, gloves, etc. We will be staying in cabins and/or lodges. In BonaResponds' style, the accommodations are not luxurious but will be fun.

Camp fires at night, good work in the day. You will have fun and do good work!

Open to all. a great opportunity for faculty and staff to be involved for a day or two.

Sign up here!

For a more complete list of what to bring, consider this list from our winter break trip. The work we will be doing is similar in many respects, so I would encourage similar belongings.

Friday, October 02, 2009

David Campbell in US News and World Report


People too often use the word hero, but David is truly one of my heroes. He is the founder of HODR and to this day, much of what BonaResponds does is modeled after them.

It was he who gave BonaResponds a big boost after the 2006 October Surprise Snow Storm in Buffalo by donating three Stihl Chain Saws to us. It was David who came to speak at St. Bonaventure. I can think of few people who I admire more. David, thank you and keep up the great work!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Flat Brownies

Got an amazingly nice letter in the mail today:

"I stopped by the Park and get boxes of brownies for Livestrong Weekend. I followed the directions to a "T". Two boxes--one for myself, and one for the bake sale. Without burning even a corner mine were a success!

I cut the brownies in the pan into inch squares.....they were gone in no time as chocolate is a weakness.

I am sending the brownies for the bake sale flattened. How else could they travel from Gowanda to Olean?"

Included in the envelope was a picture of brownies and a donation of $100.

"On a more serious note please add this to the bake sale monies for the Livestrong Weekend. I'll continue to follow your "projects".

What an unbelievable group of dedicated people that serve those in need-real need.

(her address) stands proud only because of BonaResponds."

No, thank you. Your kind words made my day!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

BR-Livestrong Notice-Board announcement

the first ever BonaResponds-Livestrong Bake Sale and Work Day!

Looking for some baked goods? Looking to help Cancer patients/suriviors? Do both at once this weekend!

BonaReponds is teaming up with Livestrong (Lance Armstrong's group) to host a bake sale to raise money for the Livestrong Foundation. The Bake Sale will be in The RC from 11 to 2:00 on Friday. (depending how much food we get we also plan on having it at Olean High School on Saturday and any remaining product will be sold at the Allegany Park and Shop).

Baked good pledges have been going slowly (not surprising since most students do not have easy access to an oven etc), so this would be a GREAT time for faculty and staff to "step up" and donate some cookies, pies, etc.

Baked goods can be dropped off to Jenifer Spencer (Upstairs in Murphy) or Taken to the Allegany Park and Shop.

Additionally, in true BonaResponds tradition, we will also be organizing work days to correspond with the Bake Sale. Work begins at 3:00 on FRIDAY--come after your last class) and then begins again at 10:00 on Saturday. We will focus on the homes of a few cancer patients but also work on building a wheel chair ramp for a former University employee with MS, and help the Red Cross in Jamestown. We'd love extra help!

Sign up for this weekend (or our Fall Break trip to WNY) at

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A former (and Current) BR volunteer from Olean High school

Great job!

From the Olean Times Herald:
"Kaitlyn has organized a benefit called Carnival for a Cure that will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Oct. 3 on the front lawn of Olean High School. Kaitlyn is working with Roswell Park's Team Cure and all proceeds will benefit Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

'Ever since my grandmother got sick I've wanted to do something like this to let people know what they can do to help fight cancer and prevent it,' Kaitlyn said."
If we have enough baked goods left over from Friday's Livestrong Day BakeSale, we will be selling there as well.

Will also encourage all volunteers to swing by if they have a chance.

Kaitlyn and her family deserve many props for this!! Great job!! You make us proud to know you also have volunteered with us. Thanks and we look forward to working with you in the future!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Want to be interviewed about a BonaResponds memory?

I was asked to post this, but confess it sounds sort of cool. IF you do it, tape a copy yourself and we can post it here too!

Will You Tell YOUR SBU Story?

Do you have a story or a great memory about SBU? Would you be willing to be interviewed by a student from the Class of 2013? This year’s All Bonaventure Reads book is Listening Is an Act of Love, a compilation of stories from NPR’s StoryCorps project. In UNIV 101 this fall, all freshmen are required to interview someone “connected” to SBU – a (current or former) faculty, staff or administration member , an alum, someone whose life has been touched by SBU or someone from the community with an SBU connection, an SBU parent…. Really anyone with an SBU connection. We are building an archive of SBU Stories.

We want to give our freshmen the opportunity to hear about SBU from many voices -- and we hope yours will be one of them! Your story can be about how your experiences at SBU helped to impact your career, or you could just talk about your favorite memories as a Bonnie.

Are you willing to be interviewed by an SBU freshman? If so, please sign up at and we will make your name available to our students!

Please share this sign-up link with others who have a story to tell.

Thanks for helping the Class of 2013…and thanks for being a part of the SBU oral history project!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Southerners survey damage after floods -

Southerners survey damage after floods -
"More than 1,000 homes were estimated to be flooded out and more than 30,000 residents across the state were without electrical power, said Dena Brummer, spokeswoman for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency."

Also some from the NY Times.

For those of you tracking the flooding in Georgia

We have made many calls and had contact with people in the region but we are far from making a decision yet.

Atlanta News, Sports, Atlanta Weather, Business News |

Their Minute by Minute page is probably best bet:
"In Cobb, the Emergency Management Agency is beginning damage assessments to include the number of structures flooded and the extent of damage to Cobb County facilities, according to director of communications Robert Quigley. He said the process will take several weeks "

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Long-term effort in Gowanda taking shape - | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information - Dunkirk | The Observer

Long-term effort in Gowanda taking shape - | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information - Dunkirk | The Observer:
"BonaResponds, a volunteer group based in St. Bonaventure University, was one of the first to reach Gowanda following the floods and saw the potential for a devoted organizational entity. They contacted one of the larger organizations after which they had modeled their own efforts: Hands On Disaster Response (HODR) out of Massachusetts.

'Initial reports pointed toward about 400 homes being affected and that got my attention because that's kind of our threshold for going in and physically assessing,' said Bill Driscoll, Jr., operations director for HODR. 'So I arrived in Gowanda that following Tuesday and met up with ... Bona Responds and we toured the area, talked to residents and local officials about what had happened and the efforts that were under way.'

Initially, Driscoll said, the consensus from people he spoke with was that things should quickly return to normal. The organization waited, remaining in contact with BonaResponds for updates on the situation, and later came in when it started to become evident that recovery would take longer than expected.

'It became pretty clear that there was a need for some help coordinating everyone - all the groups that were active in the non-profit and volunteer world - and just trying to harness all the different efforts that were happening in such a way to be a little more effective and a little more efficient,' Driscoll said."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Video from Gowanda by Courtney Young

Only a High School Student, Courtney captures what the aftermath of the storm was like very well:

Sad story in the aftermath of the flooding.

A sad story from the Springville Journal. We are investigating if there is anything we can do. Springville NY:
"The storm on Aug. 9 brought more than flooding and damage to the home and property of Dennis Decot and his wife, Chris, who live on Route 219 in West Valley. Today Chris is in an intensive care unit at Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital where she recently underwent the amputation of her right leg following a bout with Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, more commonly known as MRSA, a bacterium responsible for infections in humans which are difficult to treat."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Spirit of 9/11:

Spirit of 9/11: Service or security? -
"The idea to mark each Sept. 11 with a national day of volunteerism is based in part on a stark image: a corporate lawyer in business clothes running toward the burning World Trade Center.

That was Glenn Winuk, 40, on Sept. 11, 2001. He was an emergency medical technician who had retired three years earlier from active duty with his local volunteer fire department on Long Island....

Winuk's remains were found six months later, along with what was left of his black bag, in the rubble of the South Tower.

To his brother Jay, Glenn Winuk's response seemed to epitomize the spirit of selflessness and compassion ....founded what became myGoodDeed, an organization that linked Sept. 11 and volunteerism. They also began talking to victims' relatives and public officials about an annual service day.

In April, President Obama signed legislation declaring Sept. 11 a National Day of Service and Remembrance"

Come with us this weekend. You can work for any part of the day. We'd

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Nice comment from a Gowanda resident!

The Bona Venture:
"I have to say I was truly touched to know that Bonaventure students came and helped the day after the flood and are continuing to help. I saw 2 'BonaResponds' signs out in front of houses when I was walking down the street and my heart was so happy. I am a 2004 graduate of Bona's and am now a Special Education Teacher in the Gowanda Central School District. It makes me tear-up a little...Seeing Bonavenure continuing to help rebuilding and helping fix basements is heartwarming, because many, many, many people are going to need help well into the fall to prepare there home for the winter. I hate seeing houses empty and wish those people could move back in, but when the foundation of your home moved .... Thank You Bonaventure, Thank You Thank You Thank You - Grace"
From a comment left on the BV website!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

General Interest and Leader meetings

BonaResponds general interest meeting this Thursday at 8pm in the Dresser Aud (rooms AB). Upcoming events (including this weekend's work in Gowanda, Salamanca, and surrounding Olean area; Livestrong Days, and possible Fall Break trips.

Immediately following the general meeting will be a leader meeting to discuss specific jobs for this weekend.

You do not need to attend the meeting to attend this Weekend. More info and signups available at

you can sign up here:

Monday, September 07, 2009

This weekend is going to be HUGE!

This Weekend is the originally planned BonaResponds Local Service Weekend. The flooding in Gowanda has changed the make-up of the day substantially, but we will be having possibly our biggest event ever. We will be teaming up with Villa Maria and Alfred State.

  • What? Two days of good work
  • Where? All over! Saturday will focus on Gowanda and Salamanca.
  • What type of work? In Gowanda we will be finishing house demolition, mudding out two basements, and hauling debris out of two other homes. We will also have a crew working with the Red Cross in moving, santizing, and restoring the emergency cots that were used in this crisis. In addition we will doing some tree removal and rotor-tilling a couple of the worst hit yards. We will also be working with the Catt. County Emergency Operations Center on compiling disaster statistics necessary for FEMA.
  • In Salamanca: we will be painting a house for an 83 year old woman who has had numerous health issues. This job is a special request through the Department of Aging. It was a "pre-flood" job.

On Sunday work includes: insulation of a trailer in Hinsdale, putting in "flashing" and insulation below the house we built in Friendship, some "tree" jobs, helping at a few local charities, trail work on the Bob's Woods Trails, and several other jobs depending on the weather and volunteer turnout.

What time? We will leave SBU on 10:00 on Saturday (so be there at 9:40 to fill out paper work) The day will end (in Gowanda) with a BBQ and picnic for all volunteers (so BonaResponds, Alfred State, and Villa Maria plus those from Gowanda) It should be VERY good.

On Sunday, the we will leave at 11:00. At 5:00 there will be a BBQ on campus for all involved on either day.

Is it open to me? Yes. If you are breathing, we can find you work.

Do I have to come to both days? We'd love you to, but no, come for as long (or as little) as you want.

What to wear? On Saturday in particular come dressed for very dirty work (may want to bring a change of clothes). Mudding out basement is dirty work. Also gloves and boots. All participants on Saturday must have had a tetanus shot in the past 5 years.

Can I bring my parents? Yes Friends? Yes. All BonaResponds events are open to everyone!

What if I can't come? Tell your friends to come. If you want to donate for gas or for tools etc, let us know.

We would love a few people to be able to work Sunday evening to help clean up and to cook. It will take some of the burden off of the student leaders.

How many people do you expect? We are expecting about 100 on Saturday and probably about 50 on Sunday.

Is there anything you particularly need? Materials wise: paint brushes and rollers.
Non materially: drivers, transportation, and leaders (especially anyone to take ownership of the paint job!)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Gowanda calls, Bona Responds - Features

Here is the BV article on BonaResponds

Gowanda calls, Bona Responds - Features:
"'That was one of the biggest things we had to do: Dig the mud out of the basement,' Mahar said. 'You have this much mud, and there's no way to get it out except with a bucket, so you put it in a bucket and carry it up the stairs, dump that out and do it over and over and over again. For the first two weeks, we were hauling mud, hauling debris.'"

BonaResponds events for next two weekends

From Notice Board:

BonaResponds events for the next two weekends!

A. This Saturday we have two jobs. 1. Taking apart a house in Gowanda. Looking to save what we can. The house was destroyed by the flood. Must be taken down. 2. Help the Cattaragus County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has asked us to help determine extend of damage in the West Valley area. The results of this will help FEMA make their decision as to whether individual home owners can get disaster assistance. This is not manual labor, but is very important.
We will leave SBU at 9:30 on Satuday.

B. Next weekend is our regularly scheduled Local Service weekend. We will be working with Villa Maria (They plan on bringing down about 50 students! We need to have more than them!!! We will work one day in Gowanda and Salamanca and then one day in Olean/Allegany/Hinsdale/Friendship.

To get these ambitious jobs done, we obviously need many volunteers. The work in Salamanca is weather dependent (Painting a house for a 80 year old through the Dept of Aging) so we will know the exact schedule only after seeing weather forecasts, but rest assured there will be work on each day!

For more information on these or other BonaResponds events see:

BonaResponds is open to everyone and we are always looking for volunteers and new leaders. You can volunteer for a part of the day or the full day. Come on out. It is great fun and you really do improve the quality of live for people.

Also follow us on twitter!

Look for a meeting next week to discuss the Local Service Weekend as well as other coming events.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

More Pictures and video from Gowanda

Carrie uploaded quite a few pictures from her two trips with us to Gowanda.

Here is a slideshow of them.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Katrina + 4: it seems like just yesterday, but it seems like forever ago

It has been 4 years since Katrina. I could write for hours on the impact it has had. Clearly it was a catastrophic storm. It leveled houses, killed thousands, and totally reshaped lives, organizations, and governmental agencies.

And while it was horrible, it also forged millions of new friendships and made positive changes for many as well. Personally, without Katrina, I have an almost impossible time imagining BonaResponds.

I toyed with the idea of trying to reflect on how Katrina changed things into a pre-Katrina/Post Katrina world. But I better get to work on other things. But I do want to provide some links to what others have been saying about the anniversary and provide a link to show how I was reporting things on RandomTopics2 back immediately after the storm as BonaResponds was just getting started.

On the 4th year anniversary:

A heartwarming story from NOLA:
Gentilly woman's Katrina anniversary picture-taking tour offers satisfaction, motivation -
"'Progress,' Royal said of the street's transformation. 'You can't say it's not progress.'

Proof of the progress can be found in the pictures she has taken of Gentilly landmarks on Aug. 29 each of the last three years."

And from the editorial in Biloxi's SunHerald:
"Four years ago today the Coast faced the daunting task of dealing with the consequences of a deadly and devastating hurricane.

How daunting a task?

Estimates vary, but the number of housing units significantly damaged or destroyed by Katrina totaled at least 75,000....we’ve come a remarkably long way in our recovery and rebuilding efforts. From tens of thousands in need of permanent shelter to just a few hundred in only four years.

That’s not perfect.

But it is miraculous."

From more the coverage in Biloxi's Sun Hearld:
"Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway on the Town Green told a group at 8 a.m. that four years ago at that place and time, they would have been in water way over their heads. Pass Christian dedicated a new fire station to a longtime volunteer firefighter who died in his home during Katrina and the Bay-Waveland area held a memorial service at the beach."
From the NY Daily News:
"Four years later, New Orleans has taken impressive steps toward recovery. Following a drastic reduction in population, the number of households in the city now stands at 77% of its pre-hurricane total.

While blight remains a problem - 31% of New Orleans' residential housing stock remains unoccupied - the city issued 1,420 permits for new construction in May this year, nearly double the number issued in the same month last year.

That's some of the good news. The bad news is that the city's system of protective levees and canals remains inadequate.

My friend David Campbell the founder of HODR. Writing in his "look-back" to commemorate the 4th anniversary, thanks the volunteers without whom this recovery would not have been possible perfectly concludes:
"To everyone affected by Katrina we are always thinking of you and wishing you the best, today especially. And to everyone who came to help, thank you. Wherever you are now, know that your day, week, month or more volunteering made a difference in someone’s life."

Four years. It seems like it was just yesterday, but it seems like it was forever too.

PS a little note to any Gulf Coast resident who maybe reading this. Your recovery has been amazing. Keep up the good work!

While St. Bernard razes, N.O. holds back, creating contrasting landscapes -

While St. Bernard razes, N.O. holds back, creating contrasting landscapes -
"Four years later, distinct approaches have emerged in the two parishes: St. Bernard has proceeded with an aggressive pace of FEMA-financed demolitions, tearing down nearly one-third of its pre-Katrina housing in an attempt to rid neighborhoods of homes that could go unoccupied for years.

New Orleans has been much slower to bulldoze, often trying to allay preservationists concerns, as well as some residents' post-storm fears of a land grab in vulnerable areas. What remains is a city with about one-third of its residential structures unoccupied."

Salvation Army expects to continue flood relief in Gowanda into September - | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information - Dunkirk | The Observer

Salvation Army expects to continue flood relief in Gowanda into September - | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information - Dunkirk | The Observer:
"The Salvation Army has been on the scene since Aug. 10 when severe rains and flash flooding damaged some 400 homes and compromised the local reservoir.

As of Tuesday, Aug. 25, Salvation Army disaster teams have worked 34,909 volunteer hours, Ballengee said, providing: 31,675 meals, 286,500 bottles of water, 18,100 gallon jugs of water, 30,884 bottles of sports drinks, 500 gallons of coffee, 1,638 bottles of bleach, 2,043 clean-up kits and 1,651 personal hygiene kits.

The Salvation Army established a disaster center at the old Gowanda Fire Hall on Main Street, providing food, clothing, water and cleaning supplies. 'That will continue until Sunday, Sept. 6,' Ballengee said."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Orleans Four Years Later : NPR

New Orleans Four Years Later : NPR

Debate on hurricane's legacy -- Our view: Four years after Katrina, New Orleans reinvents schools - Opinion -

Out of bad things, good things can happen. Here is one example from NewOrleans:

Four years after Katrina, New Orleans reinvents schools - Opinion -
"If there was any silver lining to the devastation that Hurricane Katrina wrought in New Orleans four years ago, perhaps it is this: The water washed away one of the nation's worst school systems and left New Orleans determined to rebuild in a wholly new way."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sen. Schumer says disaster declaration will provide relief - | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information - Dunkirk | The Observer

Sen. Schumer says disaster declaration will provide relief - | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information - Dunkirk | The Observer:
"I want to thank everybody. One of the great things about Chautauqua County, Western New York and America is we volunteer,' Schumer said.

He called volunteering a great American tradition. He compared the men and women who labored to restore safety these last two weeks to the men who laid down their plows and took up muskets in the 1700's when the British invaded.

'They weren't paid, they weren't forced to do it, they volunteered, and that's the great tradition of America. Thank you for being part of it"

Leadership by example

This is the first of a series of somewhat reflective pieces on the work in Gowanda. They are not so much about the actual work, but the lessons learned and the good that came out of the storm.

As leader of BonaResponds I have seen many too many natural disasters--From Katrina to Ike, from the Buffalo Ice Storm to Tornadoes and floods across much of the Eastern half of the US. In responding to these disasters, I have learned so much. I have learned to push my limits, I have to learned that the world is full of people who are willing to help when the need arises. This learning process does not end, so at the risk of sounding too much life a university professor (I teach finance at St. Bonaventure University as my day job), this is the first of a series of semi-reflective pieces that will center on Gowanda, but go much further than that. I hope you enjoy.

We all know leadership is more than a title. Management gurus and books preach that you have to lead by example. The first of our lessons will deal with that and it is an example that speaks volumes without saying a word.

1. Leadership by example:

The first lesson has on Philadelphia Street. Philadelphia Street (Route 62) was one of the worst hit areas in Gowanda. Water rushed down the hill and flooded most of the basements. We got this job by asking some neighbors who said that the elderly woman who lived there could use some help emptying out years of memories (to say nothing of water and mud) from here basement.

When we arrived, much of the work in the front two rooms had already been done by family, neighbors, and Mike and Wendy two volunteers from Springville. But that is not to say there was no work. There were still many damaged personal items and a washer and dryer to remove and take to the curb. Additionally there was still some water in the furnace room and the rooms had to be washed down..

For efficiency reasons and because of the stairway (basements are a pain) we decided to do an assembly line/bucket brigade where the items would be handed up to the outside.

With the line there are places where you want to be and where you don't want to be. For instance, standing outside in the sun and fresh air is much preferred to standing on the steps, or worse at the very start of the line. It is at the start where you are still standing in water, where you you to pick up each of the the wet dirty items, and weigh the costs of salvage vs the memories lost before deciding to throw the item out or set it aside to save.

In this position, at the very front of the line was Sr. Margaret Carney, the president of St. Bonaventure University. The single person on campus who has more time demands than anyone else. The person whose time is more valuable than anyone else. The person who had to be in Pittsburgh PA later than evening. She had set aside all of the excuses and came with BonaResponds to help. She was there without press releases, without cameras (well except ours), and without any hint of being above the work. Working side by side with students, flood victims, and volunteers off the streets. She was there to help.

NY Senator in HODR Command Center

VERY Impressive...Shumer in the volunteer center in Gowanda with Bill Driscoll of HODR.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Livestrong Day Bake Sale

As part of the Livestrong Days' (October 2-3) BonaResponds Work Day and Bake Sale, Park and Shop has agreed to both host a part of the bake sale and also sell specially packaged baking items that will be perfect for the bake sale.

With each package, you will get 2 foil pans, and two items to cook. This was you can cook one for yourself and donate one to the bake sale.

In addition, in the package will be a flier/brochure with information on Livestrong and BonaResponds. Look for these package at all Park and Shops in the weeks leading up to Livestrong Day!

Cross Posted on BonaResponds and ParkandShop Blogs