Saturday, February 28, 2009

Logistics, Logistics, Logistics

It has been a day. From delayed flights, to traffic, to changing sites not once but two times. But it is seemingly a case of all is well that ends well.

The last volunteer just landed. I am sitting in the airport waiting for her. The two vans are packed but presuming we get back safely, it will be 36 volunteers in to camp.

The camp is down near the water:

View Larger Map

I will write more (probably) when we get back. Also be sure to keep checking Twitter. It is updated regularly throughout the day.

crew that got inFri slept

crew that got inFri slept at Staceys(SBU93). Home damaged by Ike,beautiful MissouriCity

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Volunteering in the president's speech

Did you hear this? I confess I do not know where he is going with this, but given that many of you are college students now, you will definitely want to stay involved with BonaResponds and stay abreast of the possible benefits of doing so.

Text: Obama's Speech To Congress - CBS News:
"I know that the price of tuition is higher than ever, which is why if you are willing to volunteer in your neighborhood or give back to your community or serve your country, we will make sure that you can afford a higher education. And to encourage a renewed spirit of national service for this and future generations...."

Video of David Campbell's Talk on HODR, Volunteering, and more

Here is the video from David Campbell's first presentation yesterday. VERY good and definitely recommended. He gives the history of HODR, some of the benefits of volunteering, how you should select a job, the importance of trust, and other pieces of life advice.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Great presentations today by David Campbell

David Campbell of HODR gave two great presentations today. One for business classes and one for the general public. Good stuff. Thanks a bunch David!

A video of each will be up (just said 5 hours to a few highlights of the talk to the general public. I will put up highlights of the business one as well, but it will be a while (have to make a test for tomorrow).

(I am adding some things that came up in other conversations as well)

Started with a history of HODR

Volunteering does three things
  1. Helps those in need
  2. Gives hope to those who need it. (shows you care)
  3. Helps the volunteer to grow and develop new skills and network
*Getting volunteers with specific skills and abilities to use those is important. Everyone wants to gut houses etc, but sometimes marketing, working on a website, filling out forms or working on a grants or a budget is most valuable thing. One way to do this is to work in field for part of day, then part of day in the office.

* when going into a disaster site (and I would add to just about anything) go into it with an open mind and be flexible.

* Giving feedback is important. Volunteers want to see what they did had value and donors want to know the impact of their giving.

* Nightly/daily meetings are important for many reasons. They increase transparency, get everyone on board, allow others to see what got done, address potential problems, and act as a training/orientation for new people. (I would also add they are often my favorite part of the day. So when you get a chance, participate in these!)

* He then discussed how assessment when deciding on whether to deploy or not is done at HODR and why "number of schools damaged/destroyed is such a good measure"

* volunteering broadens your point of view

David then gave some advice:
  1. Be skeptical and critical when you read. Don't just take it as truth.
  2. Include what is the right thing to do and what you want to do in any job consideration. Do not just look at income.
  3. Build a circle of friends that you trust.
  4. Trust is a valuable asset. Protect it.

He ended with a Q&A session.

Thanks for coming David! As I said, the video will be up soon.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

It is not official yet, but...

Just got off the phone with Randy from Randy's Rangers. As you may know, the Rangers have largely gone into hibernation waiting for the next disaster to respond to after serving in Pass Christian MS for two years.

Rather than having all of his tools and resources sit idle, we spoke of the synergies we could have operating with BonaResponds and other groups around the country.

So the current plan is to split his tools etc with us and a group from North Carolina on the condition that in the event of a disaster we would each be able to use the items (so for instance, we go to NC to help, the tools are already there, they come up here and the tools are here).

The handover will happen during our Local Service Weekend (April 24-26). In addition we are going to try and get groups that worked with the Rangers to come for a reunion and a work weekend.

Obviously this will take work on our part. SO PLEASE step up and agree to help organize the handover as well as the local service weekend--for instance, we need a place to have people sleep, shower, etc. , need to get more organized in the storage facility, need to contact all of the groups who might want to come in April, etc etc.

That said it is VERY exciting and a great opportunity to leverage what we do to make the largest impact possible.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Who we will be working with in Galveston

The C4C Relief organization index:
"Our mission is to provide first response disaster relief and recovery due to natural and man-made disasters . To provide a haven for those in need of fellowship, spiritual guidance, meals and supplies to recover and rebuild their lives. To uphold our core values of Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.

We will accomplish this by partnering with other organizations, in order to make relief efforts more efficient. For short term volunteer groups, we will provide disaster relief training, accommodations and meals, and coordinate work projects in order to make it possible and efficient for these groups to help in relief efforts."

They also have a blog but it is not updated that often.

Here are some quotes from their website:

" There is great need and much severe destruction in Galveston, with most residences and residents of this city of 60,000 affected. This is not just a wealthy vacation resort area, there are all economic classes here."
*"We are currently scheduling teams and individuals for the kitchen, clean up and muck out crews, skilled construction, and camp set-up."
* "During our 2 1/2 years of operation in Mississippi, C4C/GKI served well over 1.5 million hot meals, served over 10,000 families through our distribution center, coordinated and put to work over 50,000 volunteers from short-term volunteer groups, housing 20,000 at our campus, worked at over 500 properties, and completely rebuilt 16 houses, 2 restaurants, and a counseling center."

We will be staying with the C4C Relief organization. I am not yet sure if they will be organizing our work or if another group will be. I am speaking with Vicki tomorrow (Friday) and will give you a much better idea of what to bring etc.

Oh and here is a map of the area.

View Larger Map

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Roll up your sleeves

I have literally zero idea who Perry Ellis is, but he is giving way shirts to anyone who does 20 hours of community service. I can sign the forms if you do the 20 hours of work :)

Roll up your sleeves:
"To participate in the Program, you must have completed twenty (20) hours of public service for the charitable organization of your choice at any time during the period January 20, 2009 through and including May 20, 2009 (the 'Entry Period'). By postmark dated no later than May 27, 2009, submit proof of your completion of twenty (20) hours of public service on the letterhead of that charitable organization to: Perry Ellis/Roll Up Your Sleeves,"

Thanks to Scott for the link.

If you read only one post today, make it this one!

This semester as the result of a generous donation from Tony Annuziado, we do have some money to help fund student trips.

I won't disclose the name of the student who is getting some of his/her trip paid from through Tony's donation, but I will share with you the essay that was written to qualify.

Do me a favor. Read it. You will know what your donations go to: It does not go to overhead, it goes directly to helping others. Here is the essay with almost zero changes:

"I started high school at about the same time my mom was forced to quit college. She had to take care of my younger brother, and this took up most of her time, so she couldn’t work either. As a result of this, I had to begin working in the ninth grade in order to pay for the things I needed and wanted. Since I was working a full time job and going to school, I seldom had free time, and therefore didn’t get to do any volunteer work in high school. Now that I’m in college, my situation has changed. I now have the time, but I no longer have the money. I want to go on the BonaResponds trip because I want to do now what I didn’t get the chance to do in high school. I want to help people, and give back to the community, even if it’s not my own.

I deserve sponsorship for this trip because making someone else’s life better makes me happy. I take satisfaction in knowing that I made a positive difference in society.

I also deserve sponsorship because I know what it’s like to have life throw an unanticipated curve at you. Sometimes a minor adjustment such as finding employment, like in my situation, is all that’s necessary in order to solve the problem. However, this isn’t always the case for everyone, and I know that a lot of times people need the help of others to pick themselves up. I’d like to be one of those people that help others in their journey to start over and become stronger. I would be disappointed if all of my helpfulness and good will don’t get put to good use simply because of a matter of money."

I hate asking for money. We really do not need much. I would rather have a volunteer for a day that a $100 donation (I am confident you can return more than $12.50 an hour ;) ). But it does take some money to help people travel etc. And this is our way of saying thank you to the donors who made this trip possible for a student who would otherwise not be able to help.

Important information for those interested in going to Texas

BonaResponds-Galveston Important information

By Noon FRIDAY all people who want to go with BonaResponds to Galveston must have forms and deposit submitted and flight information entered.

For more info see:

IF THERE IS ANY REASON WHY YOU CAN NOT DO SO, EMAIL ASAP You will not have a place to stay in Galveston if you wait.

Money and forms can be left with Jenifer Spencer (upstairs in Murphy), Rob Ryer, or Mike Kasperski.

BonaResponds in the News

From Today's SBU News:
"Students will learn a new meaning to spring break this year when
BonaResponds travels to Texas to aid in hurricane recovery. This warm-weather
break will not be about soaking up rays on a beach; students will be
volunteering their time to clean up debris and rebuild houses."

The picture is from work in Western New York, but the idea is the same :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rob will be in la

Rob will be in la verna collecting money four to six today. he will have a SABRES hat on

If you want to go

If you want to go to Texas, still spots but sign up today or thurs at latest. . roster being submitted on friday.

What volunteering has meant to Patrick

Patrick Brutus sent the following along.

This says very well why you should get involved with BonaResponds.
"Since I began to attend St. Bonaventure, volunteering has become an important part of my life. One of my most moving and memorable experiences was my first trip to Mississippi, March 2006. It helped me realize the extraordinary difference I could make in the world. It also opened my eyes to the needs of people, as such needs are not found in my community. To this day, some people are oblivious to the great catastrophe caused by Hurricane Katrina. In the beginning, everyone would hear about the crisis on every news channel all day long; but once the media stopped covering Hurricane Katrina, most Americans thought that everything had been restored and things were on the verge of being normal. Unfortunately, this was not the case because even today families are struggling to reassemble their lives.

Since my freshman year, I have been involved with BonaResponds. I have done local volunteer services in our community. I have been to Buffalo relief trips about 4-5 times. I have been to the Gulf three times, every year on my Spring break. I plan on going down to Texas this year for Spring break to help rebuild homes from the disaster caused by Hurricane Ike. Each service was significant in its own way.

Nonetheless, my first time working with BonaResponds was in March 2006, when St. Bonaventure sent 300 Students to the Gulf to help families with repairs. Hands-on experience helped raise awareness for many students about the on-going suffering and burden that individuals and families continued to endure. However, this experience was not significant merely because of the houses we restored or the streets we cleaned; the meaningfulness of this experience came from receiving hugs and kisses from strangers. This experience gave volunteering a new meaning. We were hope to many people. I remember vividly one lady who cried as she was thanking us, and with her teary eyes she called us her heroes. We do not go to the gulf to build houses, we go to reestablish homes. Experiences like this are indescribable because words would do them no justice. This is what makes volunteering such an important aspect of my life."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

good room to go.much

good room to go.much cutting and angle work 2go screwgun makes things faster! needed vols to cut&measu

Dry walling in loft. new

Dry walling in loft. new auto screw gun very nice! short on volunteers

Saturday, February 14, 2009

USA Service | Event | Local Service Weekend

USA Service | Event | Local Service Weekend; April 24-Aprl 26

This is pretty cool! We are listed on the new USAService site (it is part of the push by President Obama to increase volunteer activity.

And as such I will use this as a good time to remind everyone to mark your calendars and keep that weekend open. April 24-April 26.

Two and a half days of fun work! From painting to drywalling, from walking (dogs), to neighborbood clean ups, trail creation and maintenance and more.

Will have free at night, etc. It will be fun! Trying to get permission for a bonfire. If you have any idea where we could near SBU let me know.

Also if you want to suggest a job, you can do so here.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Looking to volunteer after you leave SBU?

Ian was on campus last weekend. I got to talk to him and it is always nice to see former students who just are happy with what they are doing. Ian seemed that way. I know many graduates look primarily money but utility (Happiness) is much more important. So you might want to look at this (especially In that light of the economy!
"Mercy Home for Boys & Girls
Seeking Participants for the MercyWorks Post-Graduate Service Program
August 2009-July 2010

Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, a residential care facility for abused, neglected, and hurting youth in Chicago, has a full-time faith-based post-graduate service program called MercyWorks. This program provides highly motivated men and women with an excellent opportunity to grow personally, spiritually, and professionally while at the same time making a difference in the lives of at-risk youth.

MercyWorks Program Benefits: Food,Housing Health & dental insurance,Monthly stipend, Retreats, Vacation,Eligibility for loan deferment,AmeriCorps education award
Post-Service Employment Opportunities

 Sign-on bonus
 Financial assistance for education

As a result of the experience, support, and training gained while in the MercyWorks program, half of our previous year’s program participants stayed on at Mercy Home as full-time paid employees after their service year.

Ian McBride ‘05, Kate Tkacik ‘07 and Katie Rogers ‘08 work there. Ian can be reached at

Additional information about Mercy Home for Boys & Girls can also be found at

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Forms for the trip

Additional forms that need to be filled out by anyone going...

BTW we do still have room, so tell your friends and your professors, family members etc. I reserved 50 spots and don't want to waste spots. So let's try to get the word out! No other faculty or staff have yet signed up nor community members.

Varnishing takes focus

Varnishing takes focus
Originally uploaded by c_jackling.
Carrie uploaded the pictures from the work in Friendship that occurred this past Saturday. Here Caitlyn varnishes in the bedroom.

The rest of the pictures are available here.

Notice Board announcement

Just sent the following in for the notice board:

There are still openings for the BonaResponds Spring Break trip to Galveston Texas. The cost is $50 and includes a place to stay and food for the week,transportation from Houston to Galveston, and BonaResponds t-shirt. You have to get to Houston (Flights have been running about $200). There are many time slots available. We will be helping to rebuild the area that was devastated by Hurricane Ike in September. You will have a great time and do much good work if you come!

See for more information.

If you have signed up but have yet to pay, the $50 should be paid by Thursday. Collection times will be announced soon or email Steve Gearhart. Also please fill out the forms that are listed on the blog.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

BonaResponds Texas Travel form

If you are going to Galveston, please fill this out as soon as possible. Thanks!

We still have room. See previous blog entries for more info.

YouTube - Galveston's Gradual Return

YouTube - Galveston's Gradual Return

Monday, February 09, 2009

BonaResponds Galveston Spring Break Trip

BonaResponds will be going to Galveston Texas for Spring Break. The trip is the most flexible we have ever had.

Overview: you fly into Houston and we get you to Galveston to work. The work is still uncertain but will be some gutting and some rebuilding. No experience is necessary, just a willingness to help others while working hard and having fun.

Due to housing capacity issues, we can only take fifty people this time. Given pre-announcement demand, this will fill up. So act fast.

Arrive in Houston (George Bush Airport is preferred) either Friday (Feb 27th) night, Saturday, or Sunday (again housing issues are a limiting factor they do not have much room at volunteer shelters for Friday or Saturday). Vans will run from the airport at 8pm on Friday, three and 8pm on Saturday, and 6 pm on Sunday (more vans will be added if we have to, but would like to try and keep these times).

If you can't come for the whole time, we ask that you schedule flights in and out that are outside the regular workday since vans will be needed to transport people to and from work sites.

Departures can be Friday or Saturday. Friday vans will be to the airport 6AM, noon. Saturday 6AM. (again more may be arranged).

The cost of the trip will be $50 in excess of the transportation costs. That will pay for food and a place to stay, necessary tools, and a tee shirt.

If costs is a prohibitory factor, please please please let us know. We will try and help you get some sponsorship money.

Be sure to bring a sleeping bag, work boots, work clothes, work gloves, a camera, cell phone charger, sunscreen, and a water bottle.

more details (and hopefully in a more clear format will be available soon).


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Great day of work on Saturday

Saturday was a good day for BonaResponds but a better day for those that we helped! All told we had thirty three volunteers working at three sites. Much work got done at them all.

  • In Conewango NY (North of Randolph) we helped remove over a decade's worth of debris and garbage (for instance maybe 500 styrofoam coffee cups). He had been living out of his car since the house does not have heat. It was/is a story that is worth repeating: imagine living in house that is utterly full of garbage. Much of the stuff is good, but just piles and piles of newspapers, bags, and everything else. Rats, mice, and even a raccoon shared the house with this eighty year old. And he had no heat, virtually no electric, and no running water since the pipes had frozen. Just a sad tragic story that in many ways is this year's Gerry who we met on the "big trip" in the spring of 2006. The house is still a mess when we left, but tons of stuff was removed and at least he can now get the help he so desperately needs. Here are pictures:
  • In Allegany, a crew worked on drywalling and painting. They got one full room done and much of another. They also painted a bedroom and got the house closer to ready for the 69 and 91 year old fire victims who had lost their house. Here is a link to pictures from this site:
  • In Friendship more of the woodwork was finished at Ed and Donna's house. The house by the way is coming along! Here are a few pictures from it. More will be forthcoming!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

north of randolf: How anyone

north of randolf: How anyone could survive in these conditions is beyond me. deplorable does not do it justice

This is where the 80 year old lived. conditions are beyond bad.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

van dug out and started

van dug out and started for tomorrow. also one school van. 945 in morning from murphy.come volunteer - St. Bonaventure University Student Teachers to assist in local schools and the YMCA for 7 Weeks

So have you wondered where Laura has been? Laura is one of our student leaders. As many of you have noticed she has been uncharacteristically missing of late. Why? She is student teaching in the Bahamas. - St. Bonaventure University Student Teachers to assist in local schools and the YMCA for 7 Weeks:
"Grand Bahama Island – Four senior students from St. Bonaventure University near Olean, NY will be completing their first placement of student teaching in four schools on the Grand Bahama Island.

Dave Dowd, Connor Dougherty, Laura McDowell, and Meredith Nappa will be living and teaching at local school for the next seven weeks."
It should also be noted that I have reciveed two emails from her asking what she can do for BonaResponds from there.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Video that has some BonaResponds' content

This is a Bonaventure Commercial. It is mainly about the finance department, but since there is some BonaResponds content (a short clip from Biloxi is included) I will list it here too. If for no other reason as a notice how good service in general and BonaResponds specifically is for Bonaventure marketing efforts.

My quote for upcoming article on the Galveston trip

"Just because it has not been in the news as much as past natural disasters does not mean the people do not need help. The news cycle was different this year: there was an election and a recession to cover. Galveston got swept away both literally and figuratively."

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

An 80 year old living in his car because he has no heat

Spoke again with the Dept of Aging. Here is the story on the one job we have this Saturday. An eighty year old has let his house go. It is pretty much a total mess.

He has no heat. When asked how he is living given the terribly cold temperatures we have had this winter I was told that on cold nights he goes into his car and sleeps there because he can have some heat.

This is a job we have to do. No way we can pass this up. I could not live with myself if we passed it up and then he dies due to the cold.

If you can help, we are going to his house starting at about 9:45 on Saturday morning.

Dress to be outside. Wear gloves and boots. I do not know exactly what we will be doing but we can't do nothing.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Desperate need for volunteers this Saturday

Before you say yes or no, I want you to try and imagine these three situations. Then, let me know if you can help.

1. I just got off the phone with the Cattaragus Department of the Aging. They have an 80 year old man who is in some trouble: his heat no longer works (it is winter) but his house is a such a mess (he is living in squalor and barely has any electric) that a new heater can not be installed. They asked if BonaResponds would be able to help clean out his living quarters and help get him heat.

A few phone calls later and we have a donated walk-in dumpster (thanks SDS!) and are in the midst of working out the details as to how we can help THIS Saturday (I would have pushed it back but he has no heat!). We can use probably 10-12 volunteers here. Transportation may be an issue since it is a 50 minute drive, but BonaResponds will reimburse gas money and provide a simple lunch. We will also try to have at least a van.

Dress warmly. Not only is there no heat, but we will be making any many trips out to the dumpster.

2. A few weeks ago there was a fire locally. It totally destroyed the home shared by a 69 year old and her 91 year old mom. Fortunately they had been planning on moving and had already purchased another home that needs some work done. Here is a part of an email I received about it:
" My mother and grandmother thank you all as well. An update.. They lost everything.
Literally got out with their clothes, no shoes, on their backs. Thankfully the dog survived and just when we were ready to tell my grandmother that her cat was gone, someone called to say they found her in the inferno, wrapped her in a blanket, gave her oxygen and took her to the vet. Only medicine, my mom's purse and the safe made it out.

Help? here is the answer to that question.. what they need more than anything is a home that is safe and comfortable. My Mom is 69 and Myrt is 91.. we're trying to paste together a small army to help us finish the 4th Street house that she closed on last week.

With many hands it will only take a couple of weeks (if that). Painting, Kitchen, a bath area for Myrt, light sanding on the beautiful floors, spackle, a very small amount of drywall, very small amounts of tile work on the floors.... I will just send out an email to this list when we'll be at the house so that if anyone is free we would more than appreciate some helping hands. You have all been so generous with your offers and there is no way we can possibly repay your kindness.. we will be forever grateful."

I spoke with her again yesterday and they have 3 or four rooms that need to be drywalled plus painting etc. They can use 10 people as well. Preferably with some experience.

3. Last, but not least, Ed and Donna in Friendship. They need some help painting and varnishing the boards that will go from the floor to the drywall in the remaining rooms. (Ed thinks 4-5 volunteers would be sufficient.)

If you do the math we need about 25 volunteers for this weekend. I realize it is short notice, but fires and emergency calls can not be planned. I realize it is Alumni weekend, but bring them along.

So there is a clear need for volunteers this weekend! With the alumni back, lets make the work day Saturday this time. Meet at 9:45 behind Murphy.

Also given the likely need to turn people away for this year's spring break trip due to the availability of housing, these local days are a good way to be sure you get a spot!

Monday, February 02, 2009

BonaResponds Spring Break Trip Announcement

This was just sent to the SBU Notice Board:

BonaResponds Spring Break trip

BonaResponds meeting Thursday at 8:30PM Murphy Aud. The main topic of the meeting will be the Spring Break trip (Space on the Spring Break trip will be limited so if you want to go on the trip, you should attend the meeting!)

We will primarily be going to Galveston Texas but depending on the number of volunteers and leaders who wish to go we may break into different groups like in the past and go to multiple sites.

Many more details will be announced at the meeting.

PS We need volunteers this coming weekend for three local jobs. While not as glamorous as helping in a disaster area, they are a good way to insure your space on the spring break trip!