Friday, November 30, 2012

Big weekend for BonaResponds!

It is a big weekend for BonaResponds with events Both Saturday and Sunday locally and in Breezy Point (NYC). 

Locally work will include ramp building and finishing fencing at the SPCA that will allow up to 8 dogs to be outside at once (up from current 3).  Additionally we will be building a ramp for an elderly woman who is no longer able to get out of her house without much assistance.  The ramp will be framed and hopefully completed this weekend.  We will leave from Murphy at 11:00 each day.   Additionally, we'd really love to take supplies today (Friday) so if anyone has a pickup truck and can be free from 2:30-3:30, please let Jim know (jimmahar @ 

Also happening in NYC on both Saturday and Sunday, a BonaResponds group (made up mainly of SBU alumni and friends) will be gutting homes in Breezy Point NY.    (The FDNY has agreed to transport us from Manhattan to Breezy Point for free!)   If you or others you know are interested, please email Rich Miller (Richardmiller1 @ for ride availability and location.  Or if you prefer, you can meet the group at the Gut and Pump HQ tents by the baseball fields near 208th street in Breezy Point.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Letter to volunteers


Thank you for volunteering!  Your volunteering will make a difference.  I promise you that you will make someone significantly better off.  So to start thank you.

First the basics:
The majority of us will be working in NY but Some of you will be working in NJ.  If you have not heard from us, we will assume you are working with us in NY, but if you have a specific reason to work in NJ, please let us know.  We do not have much room there, but can make most things work. :)

For those of you going to New Jersey (smaller group) you will be working in Middletown.  Frankie Matusek will be your contact.  His email is:  There are no vans from campus going to NJ.  You are responsible for getting there on your own.  Work will be out of St. Mary's Church on 19 Cherry Tree Farm Road, Middletown, NJ

Thursday :   Vans for NY will be leaving SBU as close to 5:30pm as possible (I have to work at the Park and Shop until 5, so it may be closer to 6).

We will be staying on 141st st in Rockaway. (the exact address will be emailed later as i want to be 100% sure).    (We will be arriving there about 1-2AM on Friday morning.) The site has multiple showers and is scheduled to have hot water and heat by the time we arrive!  This was a big find as many larger (yet still fiscally responsible) organizations are not hosting volunteers as they have been unable to find a site to stay. We were very luck to find this and have to offer a big thanks to all who helped (Especially Billy and Kelsey).

Friday through Sunday we will be working in the area.  Exact work sites are still being determined.  We will start at 9 AM.  On Friday meet at the corner of Newport and 121st street to get started.  Although it is improving, cell coverage was very poor in the area, so do not plan on being able to get in touch via email.  

Work will be in Rockaway, Breezy Point, and Long Beach.  The work is changing very fast (which is why I did not send this email until after the weekend so as to have more up to date job lists).  This is great news as it means more homes are getting cleared out! :)

We will return late Sunday.

We have slightly over 30 people officially signed up.  However,  via text, phone, and in person, quite a few others have said they are going as well.  I expect the number to grow as we approach the actual work.

What to bring:

My list:

What to bring:
  1. A good attitude--most important!  We want to help.  
  2. Work clothes (jeans, long sleeve tee, short sleeve tee, sweatshirt, workboots (ideally steel toed).
  3. Gloves-- (we will provide non leather ones)
  4. Sun glasses/safety goggles (we have some)
  5. Sleeping bag (pillow if you want one--yoga block works great and is smaller)
  6. Flashlight
  7. cell phone charger
  8. warm clothes to sleep in
  9. towel
  10. toiletries etc (contacts, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc)
  11. granola bars etc.  We will provide meals but we will be staying in an area with no stores open, so plan accordingly.
  12. Gym bags etc work much better than suit cases to get items in the van.

Please be sure to fill out this form (we will have copies with us as well):
            BonaResponds Volunteer Waiver Form            

BonaResponds - Driver Form--MUST BE SUBMITTED BY Monday at 2PM.
            BonaResponds - Driver Form            

If you know of others who wish to volunteer, please let them know--ESP if they do not need rides!

Other  “things”
1. It will be fun, relax
2. PLEASE follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook--these are updated several times a day.  I simply do not have time to reply to all emails. Sorry.  
3.  We may be able to arrange a ride for some of you from Buffalo/Rochester/Syracuse.  PLEASE LET US KNOW ASAP.  
4. I am very encouraged at how fast the work is going!  The job list I saw earlier in teh week is almost entirely done in the Rockaway area.  Hence we may be moving up and down the coast some (Long Beach, Breezy Point, etc).
5. The New Jersey site is not designed to be large.  It is in part a scouting  trip to see if we will be needed there over Christmas break.
6. We anticipate being able to find work for many more people than have signed up, so if you are from NYC area, please spread the word to your friends.
7. Be flexible.  I know I have said it, but it is the most important thing I can tell you.  The jobs will change with no notice.  Sometimes we will go to a job and find that we can not do it.  Or that it was done.  Be FLEXIBLE.  :)

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The show (and work) must go on!

The show must go on!  Yes there is much work to continue to go on in the NYC area (look for an announcement later today on that), but remember before Sandy hit we had a full job list both near and far, so as they say, the Show (and Work) must go on!

We will tackle some of those local jobs this Sunday.  The main job will be to install fencing to increase the number of dogs outside at the SPCA Enchanted Mountain Adoption center from 3 to 9.  This has been started (posts have been installed for the next three "dog runs" and plans for the remainder are in place.

 (prior to Sandy here is what we wrote this about it:
"BonaResponds aims always to make lasting impacts.  That is why it is always encouraging to go by a ramp that we built being used, or hearing from a family that was able to move back into their house as a result of our actions.  This weekend we started another of these far reaching jobs with the creation new dog play areas/runs at the SPCA (Enchanted Mountain Adoption Center) just North of Olean.  When we are done,  five more dogs will be able to be outside at any given time.  To someone who has not been there, it may be small, but seriously this is huge: every day, when we are out doing other things, many more dogs will be able to get out of their small kennels and be outside.  Yes it is a costly project (when this portion is complete it will have cost BonaResponds between $1000-$1500), but I have a tough time thinking of a more lasting job. (if you want to help support this by volunteering and/or donating, we'd LOVE the help!!)"

Additionally we have multiple wheelchair ramp job requests locally.  So while we are not quite ready to tackle them yet (want the SPCA finished), we will take advantage of the good weather forecast and at least frame some ramp sections made that we can move later to where we will be building the ramps.

We are also still collecting school supplies for the Spring semester in Haiti (we shipped 19 barrels and two pallets for the fall semester) and need some volunteers to:

  1. Ship out shoes to Soles4Souls.  We have hundred collected (most during the WarmSnugglyBlanket day on September 29th) but they have yet to be shipped.
  2.  Deliver the food donations to the local food pantry.
  3. If anyone is going to Rockaway from Olean area this week, we would like a small shipment of tools and some signage/forms to go to the "tool library" at Mike's on 121st.
  4. Deliver and mail out WarmSnugglyBlankets.
  5. Once the above are done, clean and organize our storage room.
  6. Chain saw training: there are a few trees on the East Side of campus that have fallen down and need to be cut up.  This is a great chance to get trained so that when disaster does strike you will be able to help with tree removal.  
Meet outside of Murphy at 11:00 on Sunday. (ok, maybe 11:02 as Jim is probably going to be late).  We will post a sign up form soon.

Update: signup form:  

Cool video (not ours) of the area we were, and will be, working in.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Update on Post Sandy Trip

Whew, what a day!  wow...where to begin.

Keep it short and to the point:

  1. After much searching, we have change plans.  We will all be going to Queens and Rockaway.  I could bore you with all the factors that went in to the decision, but the short version is that due to the enormity of the disaster and the fact that some areas are just not safe to go into yet the leaders we feel it is best that we are all together.
  2. We had an overwhelming response to the call for volunnteers  So much so that there is a waiting list and there will be more trips in the coming months. (indeed, it is quite possible that we make this our spring break trip as well.) The final list will be made tomorrow (we are waiting to see on an extra van availability, but it looks like 40 volunteers will be going. 
  3. We are staying on a gym floor at Cathedral Prep Seminary High School in Queens.  The address is  56-25 92nd Street Elmhurst NY 11373.  We will be arriving there about 1:30 AM on Friday. Most of the work will be in Rockaway for this trip.
  4. This is a serious trip.  We will be going into active disaster zones.  All volunteers have to act accordingly.  We cannot be a burden on our hosts or in the areas where we will be working.  Our goal is to be as self-sufficient as possible.  This means carrying in food, water, and supplies to the greatest degree possible.  As a result, this is not going to be fancy.  Breakfasts will likely be cereal, lunch and maybe dinner will probably be sandwiches.  If you can bring snack foods (granola bars etc) I think you will be glad you did. (of course this may change but better prepare for the worst and be pleasantly surprised than the other way around!)
  5. We have been in contact with various people on the ground (including Ryan a SBU senior who lost his house in Rockaway) and there is a wide array of work ahead of us: gutting, clean up, and tree cutting.   This makes planning and travel more difficult as we will have to take a large number of tools (pumps, saws, gutting equipment, and even generators and power strips).  
  6.  Departures:  Approx 7pm on Thursday and 4:30 PM on Friday.   Travel together whenever possible.  It is not a race.  We get there and back safely is the most important thing.  
  7. Travel in and around NYC is always bad and made worse by the lack of subways, trains, many roads, and even traffic lights.  So, to the degree possible, we are not going to travel main routes at peak times.  Also the area is reporting gas shortages.  So we will fill-up over 100 miles out of NYC.  This SHOULD give us enough gas to get in and out of the disaster region without using their very limited supply.
  8. There is a mandatory meeting at 6 PM on Thursday for all who are going.  It will be quite short.  It will be in Murphy (I hope).  By then everyone should have paid and signed the form (yes even if you did it before, do it again!) No exceptions. 
  9. When working we must all wear BonaResponds shirts (free to all who pay the $20 to go for gas etc) Or sweatshirts (they cost $30).  They will be a good means of instant recognition and since there are not yet badges for volunteers (that may change by Saturday), the BonaResponds shirt will serve as a means of letting police and others know we are helping.
  10. Dress for dirty conditions and dress for the cold.  Flood cleanup is wet.  Plan accordingly.
  11. You must wear boots.  This is for your own safety.  Given many of you have not been wearing boots, past experience suggests wearing two pairs of socks for the first few days really cuts down on blisters.
  12. We will be sleeping on a gym floor in sleeping bags.  If you do not have access to a sleeping bag, there are a very few available on campus.  In fact, we may not even have room to take any, so plan on sleeping on the floor or bring a small pad.  Space will be at a premium.All of the above may be wrong. Really.  In disasters things change very quickly and that makes planning both necessary and impossible.  So plan on plans changing.  Be flexible, patient, and remember we are going to help. 
  13. A big thank you to all of you who helped today.  There were a few times I was about to go crazy, so thank you all, but especially: Ryan, Tim, Tony, Ray, Frankie, Greg, Brenden, Jen M., Nate, Jen S., Shane, Allie P.,  and Rob. 

If you would like to help but can't go, each trip will cost us about $500 in gas, over $200 in breathing masks, $100 for gloves, $500 in food, and $300 in equipment (yes we have much but it does break with heavy usage).  So we are talking over $1600 for each trip (more for longer ones).   Thus any monetary donation would be a great help!  You can donate by specifying that you select BonaResponds as the recipient at  THANK YOU! 
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