Saturday, January 31, 2009

BonaResponds paints Family Literacy Center

Well it was a small turnout, but when one of the workers is Pat, you know you are going to get a ton done.

What was the job? Well we really only helped the crew that they already had painting. Jen, Karen, Karie,Sarah, Ashlee, Lisa, and Rachelle had been painting what will be the new Family Literacy Center.

We got a call yesterday and although only Pat came out, we did help them get one room done (they worked on the other two rooms so everything has at least one coat down.

This is from Jen:

"Thank you very much to BonaResponds for helping to
prepare the new Even Start Family Literacy
Center! BonaResponds volunteers, AmeriCorps members, and staff
worked together to paint three classrooms and a hallway
in the new center, which will be opening in two weeks
as the main location for Even Start family literacy
programs. Even Start works with low income and low
literacy families by providing parenting, adult
education, early childhood education, and interactive literacy
activities. Olean's new program focuses on teen
parents and currently has many families with infants and
toddlers. Even Start parents interact with their children
in literacy activities, learn parenting skills, and
improve their own education to earn a GED, go on to
college, and get jobs. Previously located in an
elementary building, the program shared classroom space
with a pre-k class - not an ideal set-up for little ones
and their parents to work together! The new Family
Literacy Center will provide the opportunity for
increased program time in a family-friendly environment
where parents and young children can learn and play
together. Thanks so much!!!"

BTW if you look at Jen's pictures on Flickr the set also has some pictures from this past week in Friendship that I had not seen before.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Need a small group of

Need a small group of volunteers to paint on Friday afternoon at local school from about 2-5?. email,call/TM if able.

Alumnus joins BonaResponds effort in Texas

The story based on Bill's letter:

Alumnus joins BonaResponds effort in Texas:
"In a recent edition of the alumni newsletter an announcement caught my attention. I had heard of BonaResponds and that they had done disaster relief after storms in Buffalo, Mississippi, and Iowa. It always made me proud to see the service and efforts of the students, faculty, and alumni to help other people. It was a sacrifice, but one that showed what St. Bonaventure is all about.

Now they were looking for volunteers to help with disaster relief in Bridge City, Texas, during the first two weeks of January 2009. I live in Dallas, so if they were coming over 2,000 miles, the least I could do would be to drive 250 miles and try to help out."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

You could win $500! Be creative. Apply, you have nothing to lose!

How to Apply for a Disaster Grant | Do Something:
"What is a Disaster Grant?:

Do Something Disaster Grants fund project ideas and existing projects that assist people in emergency situations – everything from disaster preparedness to first responders to those who are still working hard to rebuild months or years later. Great projects include those that do something about food insecurity, help soldiers returning from active duty, rebuild communities after natural disasters, or provide resources for those afflicted by a crisis.
Need ideas? Click here Not sure if your project fits in? Email and we’ll let you know!

Eligibility Rules:

* The applicant must be 25 OR UNDER.
* The applicant must be a U.S. or Canadian citizen (You will be asked to prove citizenship and age if you win).
* You can only win one grant from Do Something in a twelve month period (excluding the Do Something Award).

Do Something Grants can not be used to fund:

* Travel Costs (If you are looking for grants to help you cover a travel abroad experince check out or
* Individual Sponsorships
* Shipping Costs"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bill's BonaResponds Reflection Letter

What a great and heartfelt letter. In this letter you see why all of the volunteers liked him so much!

Bill's BonaResponds Reflection Letter:
"....Could I help, how can I help, will I fit in with these 20 year old students, will they accept a 65 year old as part of the team? As you read on the answers to those questions were a resounding YES!! So off I went by myself wondering what this experience had in store for me. I packed everything I thought I would need to survive five days in a disaster area, clothes, sleeping bag, air mattress, eating utensils, water filter and some tools. We were to be working with the Church of Christ – Disaster Relief Team out of Florida who had been on site with six permanent members since the day after hurricane Ike hit in September 2008. They had a totally self sufficient compound set up in the Bridge City Community Center with sleeping bags, air mattresses, showers, hot meals, all the tools and people from the Church Of Christ to cook and make sure all of our needs were met. As it turned out all we needed were our toiletries and our clothes, everything else was provided.

Since I arrived two days into the project in the middle of the afternoon, I signed in and was directed to one of the Bona Responds job sites. I was given a warm welcome by everyone on the team which I would later find out was the “Loosers” team but we were proud of it. You see the other half of the group decided to call themselves the “Cool” team even though there was always some doubt about the validity of their name. Everyone was very glad to have me there and put me right to work ripping up the hard wood floors of our house. Let me tell you these kids were hard workers, there were no slackers in this group. There were actually more girls than guys and they gave the guys a run for being the toughest workers.

When you are working and living with a group 24/7 you really get to know them and let me tell you these kids were unbelievable. I was nowhere near as mature at their age and it gave me a new respect for the youth of today and the leaders of tomorrow. They worked hard and played hard and were great fun to be with and there was never a dull moment. The energy level was intense and even though I couldn’t always keep up, that didn’t matter, they were just happy to have a new team member.

By the time I had to leave after 5 days the Bona Responds Team had gutted 9 houses and still had four more days to go so I think the total probably went close to 15 houses ready for the next step of rebuilding...."
Read the whole thing on our Reflection and Essay page.

And if you were on the trip (or any previous trip) we'd love to have your reflection piece to include.

Six fast announcements for Campus Notice Board

The following was submitted to the Campus Notice Board for Friday:

Six fast announcements.

1. The location of the Spring Break trip is still uncertain. It is probably Texas. We are working on it. We'd love more faculty and staff involvement. Plan on coming.

2. The big Local Service Weekend (2 days of work in the local area)is April 24-April 25. We hope to have about 150 volunteers so mark your calendars now.

3. The Second Annual Buffalo service day is March 28th. It will be in conjunction with Villa Maria this year. Plan on coming and bringing your friends! Better yet. If you are from the Buffalo area, get your family involved from home too!

4. On February 23, David Campbell the founder of Handson Disaster Response (The former HandsonUSA) will be on campus. He is an excellent speaker and if you have any interest in Business (he has been CEO of several firms) or volunteering around the world, you should plan on attending. Tentatively scheduled for 12:30 in the Murphy Aud.

5. You can now submit suggested local job for BonaResponds online. For instance, if you see a park that needs cleaning, or fire hydrants that need painting, or have a needy neighbor that needs some help, or if your non profit has a one-time project (painting, landscape work, or whatever) let us know. See

6. The Friendship trip this Sunday is filled. Sorry. There will be more in the very near future.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

BonaResponds in Friendship - From BV

From the BV (the student paper at SBU): BonaResponds in Friendship - Features:
"With the economy in its run-down condition, many people are struggling to make ends meet. Most families can make it themselves, but some are in dire need of outside help. BonaResponds, an on-campus volunteer organization, has been providing this help. They have been building a house in the town of Friendship, N.Y., for homeowners Ed and Donna.....Steven Gearhart, a junior physics major, had nothing but plaudits for his experiences working on the Vandurens' house.

"It was fun. It's not that hard of work, but it's still work," said Gearhart. "You have fun there with the group and … you don't come away exhausted."

Another student who worked on the house, Michael English, a sophomore finance major, said he enjoyed working on Ed and Donna's house.

"They're really good people," English said. "They deserve every bit of help they can get. I felt more than happy to volunteer for them."
and later:
"They are just the nicest people, but they are stuck in a position that, to them, is a catastrophe every bit as large as Katrina was," said Mahar. "But it didn't affect thousands, it affected two … It's the same, it just didn't make the front page of the news. It was a very quiet story that is repeated thousands of times across the country that isn't big enough to fit on an y radar scope, but that doesn't mean they don't need the help."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Some updates on past areas

Cedar Rapids:
"Volunteers in Cedar Rapids not only worked to restore flood-damaged properties, they gave blood, donated money and material to shelters and food pantries, delivered meals to the elderly on those in need, shoveled snowy sidewalks and basically performed any tasks that needed to be done.

This year’s Day of Service was expected to be the largest in national history because Obama mobilized his grassroots network — a network forged and developed in Iowa during the caucus season — to give of themselves to their communities."

Port Neches allows volunteer village:
"A temporary volunteer village will be constructed on the property of Trinity Presbyterian Church under a one-year contract, a move allowed by the Port Neches City Council in its regular meeting Thursday.

The volunteers are coming to town to help victims of Hurricane Ike in Bridge City, Sabine Pass and other affected areas who now are trying to rebuild."

Song of the trip

Every trip is associated with one song more than any other. This trip it was Chicken Fried by the Zac Brown band. Here is our version sung on Sunday in Jimmy's house as we worked in the back room.

I will write more about it later (the lesson in the song is very appropriate!), but for now, here is the actual version of the song:

HODR-Cedar Rapids

I am guessing many of you have seen this, but if not, it is about ten minutes and will bring back many memories of working in Iowa!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

John Zimmer's top twenty list

Well we all are back. But that does not mean we aren;t going through some Texas withdrawal.

John sent the following list of his top memories :
  1. Bridge City , Texas ; “ Building Bridges Together”
  2. Rainbow Bridge doesn’t lead to either Canada or Buffalo
  3. Sunny, warm, and low humidity
  4. You know where you are when you see the water tower with the picture of the cardinal
  5. Church of Christ Disaster Response Team
  6. Mark, Shirley, Sid, and Mitch
  7. Corner of “ E. Texas St. & W. New York St. ” in Orange , Texas
  8. Mountains of debris, refrigerators, stoves, washers
  9. “Two hots and a cot” in the Bridge City, Texas Community Center
  10. Availability of nearly every type of junk food known to man
  11. You’re Mother’s not here, So-o-o-o clean up after yourself
  12. You’ve arrived at the beach when only Ashley loses cellular service
  13. Evening Bonfires, Campfires
  14. Karaoke night at “Brewsky’s”
  15. New York , New York ,” and “On Broadway
  16. “A little bit of chicken fried, cold beer on a Friday night, and radio up”
  17. “I thank my God for life, and for the stars and stripes
  18. “Discovery, Community, Individual Worth”
  19. “Seek to enhance quality of life in the world around us”
  20. “Reaching out to the poor, the less fortunate and the disadvantaged”
Thanks John! Great list and as always a great job on the trip.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A little bit of chicken fried. . . . not only was it the most popular song of the trip, it also what several of them having it for dinner

Taking down a shed and cleaning up downed tree in bridge city.

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Reflection Time

Originally uploaded by FinanceProfessor.
As the trip winds down it is time to take a second and look back (reflect) on the great work that was done.

We got over 10 homes done (I will get you a final count soon). We helped the spirits of many in town. We worked very hard at tiring and stressful work. There were no problems with the police (although we sure did get used to talking with them, sometimes with their lights on and parked nearby), and with only 1/2 day to go, no serious injuries. So it was a good trip.

The volunteers were incredibly hard working. One of the hardest working groups we have had from top to bottom. Everyone worked and everyone seemingly got along and had fun.

We had a great time at Bonfires, on runs, and many even at Karaoke. We all felt a sense of accomplishment with a job well done; be it a pulled nail, or a completely gutted house, it is very satisfying to help others and know without a doubt they are better off now than they were before.

But of course I wish we could have accomplished more. I wish we had been able to work a bit later, or to go back after dinner. I wish we had more volunteers. I wish that every resident was back in his/her own redone home. I wish that all the debris was picked up, that all the businesses were open again. And I wish that in our spare time we drew up a Middle East Peace accord, and solved all the world's economic problems.

But we didn't. But we did make this corner of the world a bit better this trip. Better, not perfect. We joke about it often, but that is really all that we can do. And I feel we definitely did that. Things are better.

And sometime in the next few months the people will move back into the homes. This will be at least weeks and probably months ahead of what when they would be had we not worked so hard.

Thank you to everyone who made the trip possible. From DRT, to donors, to those who stayed behind and shoveled walks, walked dogs, and other things to stay warm. Thank you!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday Recap

We lost more than half of our remaining volunteers today as I drove a full van to the Houston airport in the AM.

* The volunteers that did stay removed two tubs from one home, then went and finished the Gutting job in Orange that had been started on Wed. Then went to a lawn pickup (I even got to use the homeowner's BRAND NEW, Never Used before, Stihl chainsaw. It was very nice.

It was at this house that possibly my high point for the day occurred.

The job itself was an afterthought. Originally only two of us were going to go look at it and maybe start it. Then a few others decided to go, and soon enough everyone went. What makes this so special is that it has been and physically demanding trip. The volunteers were exhausted. Partially from mere repetition of gut jobs (there is an overabundance of them), partially from a longer trip than usual, and partially from less down time due to better (?) scheduling and more tools than in past trips, they were seemingly out on their feet.

And it was a job they didn't plan on. A job no one planned on. But they went. All of them. ANd when they finished cleaning up around the house, the entire group went inside and removed nails from walls well after the return to camp trip.

Great job volunteers!

* I stopped briefly on the way back from Houston to take some pictures and to buy some RioStarr Grapefruit. Truly is one of my favorite fruits. I had two after dinner today and will no longer have more for breakfast tomorrow.

* On Friday we are working a half day, then plan on going to a local animal park to see Alligators.

More pictures are up here

SUPER fast update

* Volunteers needed a break today. Many of them are really tired. Unfortunately with many leaving tomorrow, there really was no time for a day off since so many homes still need gutting and there are very few volunteers to be had.

* New pictures are up here.

* The new T-shirts arrived today! They look good!

* John made it home.

* Large contingent goes home tomorrow :( which means I can only work a half day since I half another airport trip to make.

* Everyone went to Sonic and Wal Mart tonight. The Wal Mart trip include meeting a real cowboy outside the store. Oh and BTW he was carrying a baby lamb. I don't know. So don't ask.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday's update

* The day got off to a smelly start when there was a strong smell of sulpher. Then things got worse when, in spite of duct tape, the door of the world's largest refrigerator decided to open for the first time since the flood. Yeah, the smell (and gallons of black liquid) exploded from the door onto the floor, our gloves, and just about everything else.

* Good but not great day today. Some of the volunteers seem burned out and the house was frustrating as much of the structure was damaged beyond repair. Can only tell after gutting it, but gutting it is no fun when you are not confident it can be salvaged. Moreover, the house had undergone several remodels with drywall, on top of paneling and even closets and a room build beneath the original ceiling.

* had two neighbors stop today at our site to say thanks. One made coffee for the volunteers. Also tomorrow the homeowner at the other site is buying them pizza for lunch.

* We all received Red Church of Christ Disaster Response Team shirts today.

* We had paper plate awards tonight. All were funny and some well those of youwho do not know, paper plate awards are funny awards written on paper plates. For instance in the past I have won the "What not to wear award" etc.

* The departures pick up pace tomorrow with Alicia and John leaving. Which means a 4:30AM airport trip. With a stop at both Houston airports.

Bona gives back: St. Bonaventure students travel to Texas to aid in Ike clean-up - Wellsville, NY - Wellsville Daily Reporter

Bona gives back: St. Bonaventure students travel to Texas to aid in Ike clean-up - Wellsville, NY - Wellsville Daily Reporter
"Bridget Morgan, a St. Bonaventure senior from Cleveland, Ohio, is on her fourth BonaResponds trip.

“It’s a great program. I’ve been doing it since I was a freshman. Every year, it’s been a blast,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to help people out and make friends at St. Bonaventure.”

Morgan remarked about how the owner of one of the houses BonaResponds worked on was very depressed at first. The BonaResponds volunteers found the house the way it was left after Hurricane Ike. The volunteers took out the drywall, the insulation, the cabinets and other items. 

“When we went there, the guy was very sad. He didn’t talk to any of us,” she said, adding that his spirits improved as things went along.
Also in the same article:
"....A couple of BonaResponders who didn’t go to Texas helped one or two days in Friendship. They were joined by a father and son from Massachusetts, Bill and John Driscoll....Bill Driscoll said he met Mahar in Mississippi during a relief effort following Hurricane Katrina. He said he told Mahar in December that he and John were looking for something to do as volunteers....“Ed asked us to do the ceiling,” Bill Driscoll said while he, John and a couple of other volunteers worked on placing drywall sheets and fastening them to the ceiling. “He said if we can get the ceiling done, he can figure the rest out with the Bona kids.”

Van Curen said they were grateful to BonaResponds and the Driscolls for donating their time "

Paper plate awards by the fire

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Monday, January 12, 2009

From Alicia: Mike playing Oscar

In this video, Mike hides in a garbage can to scare John. This of course is after Mike has played the role of werewolf, a crab that fell over on his back and couldn't get up, a bear, The Count, but not Kermit as he is not green and does not like recycling (a somewhat unusual combination for a environmental science major).

Updates on many things...

* Weather was cool in morning but warmed nicely.

* Judging from the cockroaches, it seems that everything really is bigger in Texas.

* Several local people stopped to say thanks today.

* Interestingly our group of volunteers got at least 4 or 5 times more done today than the paid gutters on a similar house across the street. ed

* Running here is pretty good....Not as good as Newton County Missouri, but much better than in some places we have volunteered: little traffic and some grass running. Wish there were some hills and/or trails. Mike saw a dead alligator on his run the other day; I have seen many live turtles,

* Both teams made great progress today. Jerry's crew of 12 gutted the first four feet of a house (the homeowner did not want the rest done). They were they so interesting that the neighbor pulled out a chair and sat and watched for hours. The house was a former mill with 14 foot high ceilings so everyone was sort of relieved that they did not have to do the entire house.

This owner approached us a few days ago and asked us if we could do his house. Pete scouted it, and only a few days later he was rushed to the top of the list.

My crew of 7 volunteers gutted a double-wide that had been remodeled in 2002. It was interesting in that there was drywall over paneling throughout much of the house. There was a great deal to haul out, but as far as gut jobs go, this was about as easy as they come. As mentioned on Twitter, it is amazing the difference from the previous house (as well built as any I had ever gutted, to a prefabricated one.

* Have spent quite a bit of time on pictures today. Have some from Rob, Bill, Jerry, and Alicia uploaded. More to come.

* Bill made it back to Dallas. What a great guy. I speak for all of BonaResponds when I say I hope he comes on many many more trips!

Volunteer and change the world

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Monday Morning

...cold...we had a frost last. Car windows all frosted over. but supposed to warm up.

am again impressed with how good volunteers have been....ran by the bon fire site and it is VERY well cleaned up...

two new jobs plus 2 staying to do supply distribution.

more in a bit from phone.


Originally uploaded by FinanceProfessor.
We uploaded quite a few pictures tonight after the bonfire. Enjoy them!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Another great day!

Back at camp. Taking rest of day off. Going to the beach. The volunteers have definitely earned a break!

I have been sitting here at computer for about 10 minutes thinking of how to say how great the volunteers have been working, but really can't.

I can tell you that by estimate of a local resident who paid to have his house done, the lowest cost of gutting the house today would have been $6000. That is one job. Multiply that by I think 8 houses so far and it adds up to quite a bit of "value added" for BonaResponds!

Work going well. . going to finish Jimmys house then take a half day. . the vol have worked really hard and have earned a break. . floors mainly done, some removing nails, going to leave upper layer of ceilings due to insulation and lack of respirators. . sunny and cool today.

Great day of work

Work went really really well today!

Saw a moonshine house, found the typical "stash" at a house while gutting, made a fort to protect ourselves back at camp, oh and we gutted almost an entire 9 room house, PLUS two rooms at another house, AND cleaned (swept and mopped) the base camp.

After all of this, most of us went to Karaoke and hand out with some locals who greatly appreciated our efforts in the town.

All in all a very good day!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lizard stop. michelle found it

Lizard stop. michelle found it in ceiling. will post pic later. work is amazing except for steve's bumped head

quick thinking by freshmen girls

quick thinking by freshmen girls get extra wheel barrels from neighbors

Bonaresponds is flying through the

Bonaresponds is flying through the house. GREAT JOB so far. even might have to expand the cool team's roster;)

Wheeled to work

waiting to work but too tired to walk. .

Morning update

Short update:

* Both teams are going to go mud out a house near Orange today. It promises to be one of the more physically challenging jobs there is.

* Everyone sat around telling stories and laughing last night. We had wanted a bonfire but the wind was too high.

* Speaking of winds, an ill will blew in from the west last night. It caused some lights to dim and may end kickball games, but today seems better. Today the temperature is expected to drop and cool off with rain. It is foggy now.

* work time!

Friday already? Wow..

* Hard to believe it is Friday already. Great week so far! Volunteers are really working hard.

* Today was another very good (and extremely tiring!) day. I am exhausted to this will be short.

* Two teams today.

Cool kids: tree house. Mission accomplished. Flat out difficult and exhausting. Hardest tree I have ever taken down no question about it. Did not damage roof, house, and only mior damage on the deck.

PM: gutted at Jimmy's house. Talk about great construction. Build to withstand any tornado, the flood waters snuck around the construction and did much damage. Joine by Jerry, Steve, and Mike at end.

Potentially cool kids: did an all day house gutting job. Finished a bit early and came to help the cool kids.

* Uploaded more pictures today, including some from Jerry. Up to over 330 now.

* tomorrow: "Mud House" Mudding out a house and then gutting. All volunteers will be working together.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Success! tree off roof and deck!

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BonaResponds-Bridge City Winter 2009 - a set on Flickr

BonaResponds-Bridge City Winter 2009 - a set on Flickr

Over 200 pictures now online. Check them out!

After Friendship? What is next locally?

Betty brought the following item to my attention. We are looking into how BonaResponds can help. Stay tuned.

From the Olean Times Herald
"An afternoon fire caused extensive damage Monday to a house at 2420 Route 305, just north of Obi.

The center part of the roof of the house, owned by Brent and Pam Howard, collapsed, according to Clarksville Fire Chief Frank Van Sickle....The Howard family was featured in the Olean Times Herald on Nov. 30, 2007. Mr. Howard is confined to a wheelchair and two of their grandchildren have diseases requiring extensive medical attention."

A story for the ages

There are very few boring days in volunteering. oh sure, there are a few, but they are few and far between. More often than not the whole unpredictability of it makes it fascinating and fun.

Take today for instance:

The work day started boringly enough as we got to a home that we were supposed to finish bleaching and gut the back garage and haul some appliances to the road. Not a problem in the least except that electricians were already there and there was no way we were going to get in their way, so bleaching was off.

So we had too many people for the job. Fortunately the group from Indiana was working across the street so we went to see if they needed help. There house was really big so the coolest of the cool team went to help.

It turned into one of the best gutting jobs we have had here. The Indiana crew was excellent and together we flew. From Kitchen, to living room, to garage, to bathroom.

In the afternoon our team changed jobs and went to cut a large tree off of a house. We got there and almost at once we were met by a neighbor who was very opposed to us cutting the tree. Complicating matters a bit was the fact that it was her tree that had fallen on the house and deck.

Now we had been warned abiout this woman. Jerry had said it and even the post woman had told us. BUT nothing could prepare you for her. She told us we were angering God, that we were doing the Devil's work, and just about everything else one could imagine.

The next thing I new the police were there and after explaining she did in fact need help, said we could go on cutting. About 30 seconds later that was put on hold as she wanted to buy the tree; for $2000.

Stop. Seriously stop. This is a transaction that should not have been allowed to go through. the tree was not worth $2000, ESPECIALLY when it was going to be in firewood sized pieces. I actually told the police officer that there was not a court in the land that would allow the contract to stand if in fact it was questioned. She was not sane and rational at the time.

But transact they did and we were told to cut the tree as we were before. The difference however was that the wood would go to her ("except for the trashy limbs".

So we continued cutting. But that was not east either as the tree turned out to be quite the challenge. Anne and Carrie did an amazing job cutting branches from the roof. It is not completely donw, but the majority is and we will all always remember the day!

More on the tree tomorrow.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

An email from an Anonymous Bridge City Resident

I just wanted to write and tell you I wept as I read your blog. There is so much destruction here, along with the uncertainties and depression you talked about. It makes me so happy that you guys are here, helping!

My dad is 75 (76 in March) and is doing most of the work at their home alone too. He is strong for his age, but mom isn't able to help him much at all, so he gets tired easy. My brother works 7-12's and comes when he is able, but daddy just keeps on going and he wont let me do anything to help. So it's him and one of our neighbor friends who comes after his job and helps late into the evening to try and put things back together.

[He] is a proud cajun man who won't ask for help much....All the outside help he has had, has been from me just signing him up with groups and them showing up. So I say all this to show you how much everybody truly appreciates you all being here.

It's like this a lot for the older people in our area. They won't ask for help and they try to do it alone. But you guys are AWESOME! And I just wanted to say thank you again. It means so much that yall are here ... more than you know.Thanks!!!!

When we get letters like these, I really have to ask, why doesn't everyone help? It really does not take that much time and you make such a difference. Want to come back with us? Feb 27-March 7. Or go volunteer without us. The Church of Christ Disaster Response team is good, well organized, and very helpful. Give them a call and go volunteer. You will make a big difference!

Quick AM update

* Going to try and mingle the cool and uncool teams today. Both doing doing gutting jobs. The team formerly known as the Uncool kids, did walls yesterday. Today is floors for them. The formerly (and still) cool kids (who amazingly lost in kickball) will begin a new house today.

* Rob made a midnight earplug run to the storage shed for a few girls who could not sleep due to the snoring of a few others.

* Breakfast is a "do it yourself" meal. Choices include cereal, instant oatmeal, fruit, bagels, and the seemingly ubiquitous donuts.

* Weather is to be in the upper sixties and clear.

* Rob mentioned that Sonic is delicious. Steve is partial is WhataBurger but puzzled by the mustard or mayo question on the sixty question test required to order.

* work time!

Thoughts from today

I wish there were more hours in the day. Every day is full of so many stories that I can not do them justice, but want to at least point out a few of the high points from today.

* Big Picture stuff: One more home gutted. One partial house gutted. No injuries. The homeowners so affected by the storm are just a bit, a tiny bit, but still a bit, better than they were 24 hours ago. So the day was a success.

* Possibly my favorite part of a very good day was talking with the the homeowner at our first house (which we did finish). It will be a long road back, but at least their home is gutted.

* One of the interesting things the homeowner mentioned was the enormity of this. Try to imagine working alone and essentially tearing your own home apart. (I have a hard enough time finding time to paint a single room. Now try throwing out all of your possessions, taking down all the walls, taking up the carpets and floors, and ALMOST rebuilding your entire house. While working. While raising a family. Seriously, take a few seconds and try to imagine it. Wouldn't you want any help you could get? I know I would.

* After lunch we returned to the site we had been working on and we saw an elderly woman struggling to move a pallet in her yard. So Carrie and another volunteer went and helped her to move it into position to help construct a walk way through her swampy front yard.

After the pallet was moved, I got to speak with her. She spoke of the difficulties facing the residents: too little money, too much work to do to recover, and a great deal of uncertainty as to whom will be allowed to rebuild and what houses will need to be raised.

She also talked about how she had lived in the back of an 18 wheel truck body for weeks after the storm and how while thankful for FEMA (she now calls Bridge City FEMA town since so many live in FEMA provided housing), she fears most won't be ready when the government wants their homes back. She is also afraid of another hurricane, but not sure what else she can do.

* As a grocer whose family did have a store flooded (Portville) in the flood of 1972 in the Olean area caused by Hurricane Agnes, it was with special interest that I went to the temporary Market Basket store located in front of where the original store was 4 months ago. Not sure how much it cost to set up, but the store was both very small and quite busy when I was there.

* I really like the set up the Church of Christ Disaster Response has at the comunity center. Much food and good supplies. They are at once organized and flexible. Good job Mark, Shirley, and the rest of the volunteers!

* Talked to Michelle today. We will be getting shirts before we leave! Very exciting. The shirts were donated but as I am not sure if she wants us to share that, I will leave her last name out of it until we have permission to use it.

* Also talked with Bill Driscoll and Donna. The work contined to go well. I am not sure if or when it will run, but the Wellsville newspaper is interested in doing a story on the work that is on going there.

* uploaded more pictures and videos to flickr.

* I have been asked what this trip is like. All trips are unique and it is way to early to say, but things are going very well. And I know I should not try to classify anything this soon, but I will attempt to:
  1. Work seems most like Iowa so far. Gutting and more gutting but at a pace slightly less frantic than the first Biloxi trip. (Maybe more like Biloxi January 2006)
  2. Base Camp sort of has the feel of first trip to Biloxi in Oct 2005. Why? maybe because of all the supplies, maybe because there is not an awful lot more to do besides work.
  3. Residential area where we have been working reminds me of a larger, richer, Pearlington.
* a reminder that you can follow what is going on with BonaResponds at our twitter account as well.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Bridget sweeping up a semi gutted house in bridge city

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Wednesday Morning Update

Sunny and cool in Bridge City. Two Crews going out gutting. One crew (who we have nicknamed the Cool Kids) is also unloading a semi of food and supplies before going to the job. The other crew ("The not so cool kids") is beginning to gut a new house.

As I am the leader of the "Cool Kids" crew (or at least their driver) I have a few minutes to give updates on other things.

* BonaResponds has taken the lead in recycling here. While it may not be an enormous step, we are paying $30 to have a group come and collect plastic bottles from camp. Given that we go through much plastic, this will be a good step and shows the importance of reducing and recycling. It should be noted that this was a student led initiative that is being organized by Bridget Steele.

* The response from the homeowners has been remarkable. Even after only one day. At one site yesterday the homeowner seemed quite depressed when we got there. By the end of the day he was talking with us and seemed much happier.

At the other house, we met Barney. Barney is an elderly gentleman who has been gutting his house largely alone with his wife (who gets around in in an electric wheelchair). The volunteers finished gutting the ceilings and also delivered a washer and Dryer from the Church of Christ. If the story ended there it would be remarkable. But it is the second time he has had to gut his house in 3 years!

In fact he said at least a few of the rooms went very quickly since they had not be reconstructed yet after Hurricane Rita had hit the area in 2005. And in spite of this, he was as upbeat as anyone: cracking jokes, walking around talking to everyone and get being as happy as could be. In fact he was so excited by the work the "Un Cool Kids" did, he came by the camp to thank everyone.

* Spoke with Bill Driscoll Sr. and Donna back in Friendship. Drywall work is going very well there. In fact Bill said he thinks they may leave a day earlier than anticipated because of the progress. The ceilings in the big room are almost done. Depending on how much gets done in next few weeks, look for more work days to paint and finish the first weekend back to class.

* still need to get the shirts. Michelle if you are reading this please give me a call.

more later. Battery is dying and I have to get to work.

Rob playing a piano

Rob playing a piano
Originally uploaded by FinanceProfessor.
Posted about 50 pictures of the BonaResponds Bridge City Trip. More to follow.

internet finally

Sitting in the parking lot waiting for Steve to land, but we do now have internet! Tomorrow I will get pictures uploaded etc.

Today was a good day! Really sick of driving to airport, but won't need to for a few days.

Things went very well. Got tons done. At both sites the homeowners were very happy!

more soon!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Ashley hauling out dry wall from flooded home in bridge city

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Like the fact that as

Like the fact that as we are tearing down dry wall in texas, others putting it up in Friendship. go bona responds

One of two gut jobs being done today

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All made it in for

All made it in for today..four more coming on tues.area is rich in chemical and oil refineries. work begins in AM

Monday, January 05, 2009

.no internet at camp :(

.no internet at camp :( so will be interesting but will find something.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Bridge City Looks For a Bright and Prosperous 2009 | KBMT ABC 12 - News, Weather and Sports - Beaumont - Port Arthur, TX Beaumont - Port Arthur, Texas | Local News Top Stories

Bridge City Looks For a Bright and Prosperous 2009 | KBMT ABC 12 - News, Weather and Sports - Beaumont - Port Arthur, TX Beaumont - Port Arthur, Texas | Local News Top Stories: "
Residents in Bridge City are hoping for a better year in 2009 filled with new beginnings following Hurricane Ike.

There's still a lot of recovery to be done but a lot of progress has been made. Hurricane Ike nearly wiped out the entire city destroying thousands of homes and businesses."

Watch the video.