Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Our goals for 2015

It is that time of year again. Time to make goals and resolutions for the new year. Here is what we hope to achieve in the coming year:
Garden program in Gonaives Haiti run by Djemson Jeudy

Our overall goal is to make the world better in any way we can. Which, as our mission states, is to help. We want to make the world a better place for everyone.

Here are our more specific goals for 2015 that we believe will make the world better.
  1. Respond with significant numbers of volunteers and resources to make an impact to any national disaster where we are needed.
  2. Make a difference locally by getting people around and over roadblocks in their way.
  3. Develop leaders who can expand and improve our work locally and globally.
  4. Get more volunteers from  the local community, faculty/staff, alumni, students, and local schools. This also means more groups and chapters around the country doing their own work. 
  5. Continue the successes in Haiti schools, orphanages, and other non profits with school supply distributions, solar electric, gardening programs, and our new composting toilet projects. We hope to see all of these successes continue to prosper and grow.
  6. Continue and improve efforts for people who can use a helping hand wherever they are located: including, but not limited to Liberia, Costa Rica, Haiti, and the Philippines.
  7. Start PositiveRipples to assist micro-enterprises/businesses near and far.  (Invest at least $10,000 in Haiti and Uganda working with businesses as well as $20,000 locally through SIMM).
  8. Improve/develop tutoring program to spread teaching of English, Science, Math, and Technology (with HaitiScholarships) in Haiti (and elsewhere?)
  9. Increase fundraising for HaitiScholarships by 20% to allow at least 40 students to attend school in Haiti for the 2015-2016 school year.
  10. Distribute a minimum of 365 WarmSnugglyBlankets to people with cancer. Also in this area we want to work to reduce cancer’s impact.
  11. Distribute over 500 books to local school children.
  12. Establish a sound financial position to get a new (used) van when needed.
  13. Expand the impact of Good News From Haiti
  14. Develop the financial resources needed to get a new van if/when needed.
  15. Have fun making the world a better place!  

Friday, December 05, 2014

Weekly update

Weekly update

Much good news this week!

  1. The shipment to Haiti has begun arriving!  With school supplies, irrigation kits, and more!  It will take several weeks to be completely delivered, but the first boxes are arriving! :)  :) 
  2. We paid $275 today for a composting toilet for the HaitiGoldvision School and Orphanage near Lascahobas Haiti.  This should reduce the spread of cholera and other illnesses brought about by poor sanitation.  
  3. HUGE Thankyous this week to our donors!  Without you, BonaResponds is just a good idea!  John and Ann, Pat, Dresser's Dress down day, and Mary especially (remember I have about a week lag from donation to when I see it, so if your name is not here, wait til next week!)  BUT THANK YOU!
  4. Another BIG thank you also to Dave Volz and the Cuba-Rushford teen leadership program.  A HUGE help!  they collected almost 300 pairs of shoes and several boxes of books!  GREAT JOB!  CR is always one of our biggest helpers!  THANK YOU!
  5. Finally a THANK YOU to Michelle, Shelly, Karen, and Lynn for donations of books, shoes, and even winter coats!
  6. This coming week (Dec 13) will be the big BR-Dallas fall workday where they will be working with disadvantaged youth at the Love For Kids Christmas picnic (see for more information.
  7. Online shopping?  Please buy via GoodShop and pick BonaResponds for your charity!  Every little bit helps!
  8. There will be no Winter break trip this year.  The combination of a shortage of funds, few available leaders made a trip impossible.  We will stay busy locally and online, so please get involved.
  9. Nice coverage in the Olean Times Herald this week!
  10. The Next WarmSnugglyBlanket day (where we make blankets for those with cancer) will be Saturday January 31, 2015.  We hope to make 100 blankets! 
  11. International Service Weekend is April  11-12, 2015.  mark your calendars and plan an event!
  12. Looking for a present for someone who has everything?  How about donating in his/her name?  A solar system costs $1500, a ramp costs about $1200, a composting toilet $275, School for a year for a student via HaitiScholarships costs about $200,  a gas fill up on one of our vans costs $75, a new hammer costs about $25, a shovel costs about $20.  
  13. We will be working locally this Sunday (11:15 by the trailer).  A VERY VERY full agenda is on tap.  Dress warmly!
  14. Happy December!  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Update on many fronts

My top ten list for the week:

In this relative lull in the post snow cleanup, a fast update on other fronts:

1. A huge THANK YOU to all who helped in Buffalo!  The snow was truly breathtaking.  To see the community come together was encouraging and heart warming.  We made three trips up and had almost 50 volunteers.  We helped to clear 29 driveways, about 15 fire hydrants,  several roofs, doors, and walkways.  We now wait and hope the flooding is not too bad.

2. Haiti continues to be a source of both our great successes and bitter frustration.  First the bad news:  key parts of the solar system we donated to a school in Leogane were stolen and the one in Gonaives burned up. Because of this, we have placed the VERY needed system on hold until we can figure out how to stop the crime.    It is mindboggling frustrating and humbling.  On the positive side, we have heard great successes at schools and orphanages in Lascambas and Gonaives.  (GREAT JOB Jean and Djemson and the others)

3. Instead of solar in Haiti we will fund a few composting toilets as a test.  (At least they are tougher to steal or break!).  They will make things safer in many ways and reduce disease.   Additionally, the waste can be composted into fertilizer.  The program has the added benefit of being cheaper too!  Only $320.  We will be paying $270 on at least a couple to start.  Why $270?  A condition of one of the donors was that the Haitians raise at least some of the money as well so that they would truly see its worth and not just as another throw-away NGO handout.

4.  Also in Haiti as part of our efforts to improve education, we will be working with @Haitischolarships, some people from the St Bonaventure School of Education, as well as schools in Haiti to create better standards and on teacher training.  This will include better reporting from Haitian schools and tracking of attendance (teacher and student) and tracking improvement.  This is a BIG WIN!

5. Today the last of the money raised in the #EndEbola leaf raking campaign will go out.  If anyone wants to continue to help in a very impoverished area, we sure would love the help!  Today the CYC crew is back in Monrovia.  Their Kids Camp starts soon.  (Dec 10)

6. Our book collection has gone VERY slowly, so we will extend it until Dec 8th. Remember these are for local families with children from pre K to grade 12.  Books can be left off in 104 Swan Building on the SBU campus.

7. On Saturday night, our van suffered a broken window while parked on campus.  If anyone wants to confess to the vandalism and pay for a new window, we will NOT take it to the police nor security.

8. We will be working this weekend.  Best guess is in Olean, but we may go to Buffalo again if the needs look great still.  Stay tuned.  

9. THANK YOU to those of you who donated this past week! Denise, Todd, Sean, Pat, Ryan, Gary, Patricia, and those who helped with food this weekend.  We have said many times, but it deserves repeating "Without you, BonaResponds is just a good idea."

10. Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone!  We all have so many things to be thankful for.  We often forget that when we see all misfortune and sometimes pure evil that happens.  The good is much more common even though it tries to hide itself.  Be good!  Be Safe!  Volunteer and Change the world!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Snow cleanup day 3

We are working to the East of Buffalo in Cowlesville today (Sunday).  They were hit with about 90 inches of snow there and according to friend and colleague Tracy who lives there, they have many people there who simply can not get out.  Including at least one woman who is fighting cancer (we will take a WarmSnugglyBlanket!) and needs to get out for doctor appointments/chemo etc.

WE WOULD LOVE MORE VOLUNTEERS!! Meet at Cowlesville Volunteer Fire Dept about 11:30. (FYI Cowlesville is the winner of the Most snow contest w 92? inches!) It is well East of the city so if anyone from the Rochester/Batavia area wants to help, it is a great chance!!

Friday, November 21, 2014

BonaResponds Bufalo

BonaResponds Buffalo

BonaResponds will be helping in the Buffalo area this weekend.

After any disaster things are very much in flux so I will not try to tell you exactly where or what we will be doing yet on Saturday and Sunday.  We will be doing something. Please follow us on Twitter/ and Facebook for regular updates throughout the day.

We would love your help.  MY BEST GUESS: we will leave SBU at about 9AM on Saturday and will be shoveling/feeding/? somewhere.  On friday a team will be working with Meals on Wheels in the area as well as speaking with officials as to the plan of attack over the weekend.

IF YOU DO COME (and I can not stress this enough), it is not a joy ride/sightseeing trip.

If you are not ready to work, do not come.  If you do come,

Dress for extreme conditions (in layers as you will want dry clothes).  Wear boots (if you have sneakers on we will not take you).  We can not be a burden on an already taxed infrastructure.  We will be self-sufficient (so bring granola bars etc to eat).

If you have access to a snow blower/favorite shovel, PLEASE bring it. Same with gloves, hats, etc.

Again, we will be in the field today and I will not be able to respond to emails.  For more info or to volunteer, please see our website and social media.



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Book Drive for local students

We are collecting books (reading and picture books) for children PreK-12.  Most of the books will remain local.

A kindergarten student in a local school  recently told her teacher that she had a book at home now.  She was so excited.  One book.

How can we expect children to learn when they have no books?  You can not do everything in a school day.  Much research shows the importance of having books in the home.

"“They enhance the academic performance of children from families as all educational and occupation levels,” the researchers write, “but the enhancement is greater for families with little education and low-status occupations.”"

So our goal is to get at least two books to each student in the teacher's class.  BUT since we are doing that, we might as well expand!  So we will also be getting books for the BonaBuddies program and any other school group that would like them.  (contact us at  

You can drop off books (new or slightly used) at 104B in the Swan Business Building--just leave them if no one is there (they will not be stolen!)

(If you know of groups doing this already please let us know--we are not trying to steal the collection, we'd love to work with you!!!)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Update on Ebola Payments

English: Countries where Médecins Sans Frontiè...
English: Countries where Médecins Sans Frontières has Missions. Data from of the year 2009 Nederlands: Landen waar Artsen zonder Grenzen actief is. Gegevens van over het jaar 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Finished making the latest round of   payments today to groups working to help those affected by Ebola from our  #EndEbola leaf raking project.

Donations.  $1,870 raised.
Payments to date: $1792.

Donations that have been made:  $980 to CYC Liberia, $250 to Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), $200 to Partners In Health,  $100 to  Medicus Christi, Ltd. , $100 to Catholic Relief Services , and  $100 to  CitiHope International.

Total raised to date: $1,870.  Total paid out:  $1730 + Western Union fees: $62 = $1,792.   (BonaResponds donated the gas and the rakes--including two that were broken on the event).

So currently have $78 left from the program and we expect to use this for the CYC orphanage in Monrovia.  Soon.  THANK YOU TO ALL WHO HELPED IN ANYWAY-from raking to donating, to even spreading the word!

Update: after posting this we do have another donation coming in.  Will post it when we receive it.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fast (semi fast) top ten update list

Never enough time to get the word out on everything.  But here goes:

BR update: top ten list on many fronts:

  1. 1. It is another Hilbert weekend, so only going out on Sunday--get your school work caught up on Saturday!   (Sun 11:15: dress warm!!!)  Job includes more steps installed and likely some winterization.  Also, MAYBE helping clean out a storage area in Allegany County that has water damage.  Stay tuned. 
  2. Remember the donation for Haiti from the recent graduate a few weeks ago?  It was sent out and allowed a larger garden and reforestation program in Gonaives, teachers at a school in Leogane to be paid, and teachers at an Orphanage in Laschobas to be paid.  It also is allowing them to think now about composting toilets that will be great!!!
  3. Money was transferred twice to West Africa for our partners there.  Like in other past situations (From MS to OK to NY to Haiti), there are so many needs remaining.  The $1762 we raised has been (or will be very shortly) all been allocated and dispersed.  If you would like to continue helping, fund raisers will be needed.  It is as simple as that.   
  4. Several jobs have been on our to-do list for months but for one reason or the other keep getting pushed back.  With the winter, unfortunately, here, it looks like a few of the jobs (painting) will have to wait until Spring/summer.  The lack of volunteers and a larger leadership pool does have a cost. Sorry to those who are waiting.  
  5. The lack of fundraising will also mean that we will not be able to do a food packing event this spring.  
  6. Our International Service Weekend (we ask people wherever they are to go and do some service from cleaning up a park to painting a school, etc) date this spring is April 11-12.  This is the weekend AFTER Easter.  Start planning your projects! More information soon!
  7. Locally, I was speaking with a teacher this past week who was saying some of her students have no books at home.  One girl in particular was so happy when she had one book.  So from now until December 1, we will be collecting books!  We are willing to work with any group already doing this, but I did promise the one teacher that we would get at least two books for each of her 25 students (K-6).  
  8. A dozen WarmSnugglyBlankets were given out this week.  A big thank you to the Pink Pumpkin Project for including our blankets in their care packages!  Also, a big Thank-You to the St. Johns 9th grade Religious Education program for helping to make blankets!  (thanks Ann!)
  9. HaitiScholarships is happy to be working with a JMC class (thanks Shelly!) to help bolster our fundraising and media presence.  I take full blame for HaitiScholarship not truly blooming, as it has the potential to be huge and is still very much still in a start-up mode.  We have a board meeting this Sunday evening, so if you have any good ideas for us (or want to make a donation to put more Haitian students in school), please let us know!
  10. A reminder with Christmas shopping coming up, if you are shopping online, go to and select BonaResponds as your charity and we will get a small amount of each sale.

Thanks everyone!!


Friday, November 07, 2014

Update III on #EndEboa

As promised, another update: 

Total pledged: $1712 

We sent the first $500 via Western Union (cost $20) this week and it was picked up today in Monrovia Liberia by Bishop Nelson.  It will be used to help CYC there feed orphans and others affected by Ebola.   This is a big win!  :)

This weekend $250 more will be sent to Doctors Without Boarders, $150 to Partners in Heath, $100 each to Catholic Relief Services and Medicuschristi.   

After that, we will send the rest by the end of the coming week. 

A few pledges have yet to be received, so if we raked your leaves (or other work the past two weekends) or if you just want to give to help those on the front lines of Ebola, now is the time. You can donate via BUT SINCE I WILL NOT KNOW FOR A WEEK, PLEASE reply as well so we can send the rest of the money this weekend.  (THANKS!) 

We looked into sending CYC and BR shirts as they have wished, but UPS was WAY too expensive (about $300 for a few shirts), so we will look for other ways, or just not send them. 

Pictures and more of the project are available here: 

Turn up your volume:  

I will leave you with an audio thank you/update from Bishop Nelson himself:

(the audio gets better after about the first 1/3)

THANK You again everyone!


Thursday, November 06, 2014

A thank you and then some Inspiration from various sources

Inspiration comes from many places, so on this cold wet Autumn day, maybe some of you need some inspiration to come volunteer.  Here you go:

First from BonaResponds' facebook page, A thank-you from Djemson in Gonaives Haiti for the supplies we sent. 

His thank-you: 

"I really miss words to thank you!!
Thanks again .... Attached please find the picture of the barrels and a picture of a beautiful library that we use to put all the books that we have , It is more beautiful now as we have more books! thanks again ...for the books!!! I really appreciate that!...on Behalf of all the children, I say a big thank you to you, BonaResponds and the volunteers who help out with this! 

Thanks again Jim for all your supports and also a big thank you to BonaResponds
With Gratitude,

Accompanying the thank-you from Djemson were several pictures.  

This is my favorite picture as many of the children huddle around a small toy elephant.  As we debate the long run viability and soundness of the shipment program (we have now shipped well over 100 pallets of school supplies, medical equipment, books, and soccer equipment), we should never forget how small things can mean so much.  

That wasn't enough for you?  Ok a few more from non BonaResponds' sources:

From the Nelson Mandela facebook page. (posted on Nov 6, 2014)

From the Dalai Lama facebook page: (posted on Nov 6, 2014)

Want still more?  Check out volunteer quotes on Pinterest. 

--!Hope to see you volunteering with us soon

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Greg and Jim talk about BonaResponds. (video)

Greg Faughnan was the student leader of BonaResponds.  Recently he sat down and spoke with Jim on what BonaResponds is.   Topics include local work days, Sandy, Oklahoma, Haiti, and that we all have something to contribute.  Great stuff.  Thanks Greg!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Update on our #EndEbola project

Médecins Sans Frontières logo
Médecins Sans Frontières logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An update on our #EndEbola fundraiser:

Last week we raised a total of $757 and CYC raised $300.  This weekend (Halloween Weekend) will be the last before we send the money.  We have several jobs lined up so we need volunteers!    We are still hoping for $1500, but we can't do it without you!

CYC group in Dolo Town, Liberia,  Africa 
If you would still like your leaves raked still (new minimum $50 donation--we learned our lesson) please submit job at

To volunteer: rain or shine: 10:30 on Sat and 11:15 on Sunday by the lower parking lot by the baseball field at St. Bonaventure University.

The money will go to some of the following.  You can also donate directly to them.  We will be sending the money on Sunday, so PLEASE contact us ASAP.

Groups we recommend:
1. Doctors Without Borders
2. Partners in Health
3. Catholic Relief Services:
4. UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief)

5. a group run by a Siena Graduate
6. CitiHope: a group we have worked with in the past and hope to again!
7. CYC of Liberia (which runs service programs and children camps and are getting many additional orphans)

Here are over 60 pictures of the work last week

Over 15 volunteers made this large pile of leaves to help #EndEbola

Bishop Nelson and the CYC crew in Liberia sent along the following (I am combining a few messages): 

"There are new outbreak in rural area/ hour counties. 
We already a jeep with " BonaResonds/CYC-USA written on it, Please send some Tshirt by DHL... we also need a used laptop to do quality documentation and on time.
Please Brother. We need a training of trainers workshop. Try to do your best for your present in Liberia. we working on the website, it will soon be ready BUT if can help me to build, DO.

"There is a need to put all we have into the upcoming generation, theyouth, and the kids for a happy generation to come. All they have isthat which was giving to them.
Now that we are fighting Ebola together, let us save lives now,tomorrow will be too late for a soul.
These pictures were from the assessment in Dolo Town by the CYC EBOLA task force inLiberia. "

Bishop Nelson S. Boegbah"


Update: 11:30 AMEastern October 31, 2014:

We send the following update to those who donated to our efforts.  In an effort for total transparency, here is the email:

"Thank you to all of you who volunteered and to those who donated to have the leaves done. 

In conjunction with CYC, we have done 16 jobs so far!   Thank you to all involved!

Financially the program was a moderate success. We will likely not make our $2500 goal.  To date: 

CYC in Machias  3 jobs at $100 each
BonaResponds 12 jobs (donations ranged from $7 to $100).  

As of right now we are at $1057.  So it will go in the "better not perfect" category. But the $1000 (plus we have a pledge for another $200 to be collected from one job this coming weekend) makes it a good effort by all and will definitely help! 

We do have a few jobs left this weekend, so we'd love to have you volunteer again with us!  10:30 Sat, 11:15 on Sunday.  

The CYC group in Liberia is particularly happy about your efforts and Bishop Nelson has personally asked me to let you all know that he is praying for you and wishes you all a sincere Thank You for your efforts and donations.  You can read more from him (and see pictures from their assessment in Dolo Town Liberia at 

thank you all again!


Friday, October 24, 2014

Who or what is BonaResponds

WIth all of the new hits the past few days, we better let you know who we are:


Who we are:  BonaResponds ( is a volunteer organization whose mission is simply “to help”. BonaResponds is affiliated with St. Bonaventure University (SBU) it is located 75 miles south of Buffalo NY.   BonaResponds is open for all and always welcome new volunteers!  The more volunteers we have, the more good we can do!

What we do:  BonaResponds helps to make things better.  We provide semi-skilled and unskilled labor on a wide range of projects from wheelchair ramps to disaster response.  We generally can not provide materials.  Thus, if possible the homeowner is responsible for the cost of lumber, paint, roofing supplies, etc.  In the event the homeowner cannot pay, we may be able to help secure materials.  In other cases we can buy the materials and you can pay us back.

What to expect:  We will try very hard to make things better.  We are not professionals.  The majority of us  are students or work full time.  All of us give up our own free time to help others.  We try very hard to help everyone but are not perfect and can not do everything.  Please be patient with us.

  • BonaResponds aims to help make things better. We may not make it perfect but we can make it better! Whether the help is "just" being there immediately after a disaster to listen to survivors or if it means to haul trees, gut houses, or pick up debris. Our goal is to make the world, and your life, a little better.  

How can you help?

* We love to work with those we are helping.  It means much more to the volunteers if we are working along side those we are helping.  Even if you can not do any of the work, just to be there and speaking with the volunteers means a great deal.
BonaResponds History
* BR  was established after Hurricane Katrina and has made over 50 trips after many types of disasters and have had over a thousand local work days
* In addition to disaster relief, work has included over 100 wheelchair ramps, new floors, making homes safer, winterizing homes, construction work on two homes, roofs, work at schools, churches, park clean ups, river clean ups, work with “at risk” students, collection of books, coats, gloves, sporting equipment for the less privileged, painting,
* We are open to all
* We work approximately 50 weekends a year, so come on out and lend a hand! We are ALWAYS looking for volunteers!

Here is a  partial list of items (call them mantras, sayings, thoughts, or views) that help guide BonaResponds

  1. Everyone has something to offer.
  2. It is better to go and not be needed than to not go and be needed.
  3. Better not perfect.
  4. Walking in others' shoes not enough, we need to see things through their eyes.
  5. We can't do everything, but we can do something.  
  6. A small job to society is often an enormous help to those helped.
  7. Much can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.
  8. Many hands make light(er) work.
  9. All voluntary activities must be "win-win".
  10. Make a positive difference
  11. Everyone is a role model.
  12. No one is perfect.


Media coverage of our #EndEbola Campaign

A fast look at some of the media coverage of our #EndEbola campaign

From the BV by Julia:

"BonaResponds began a campaign this week to raise awareness for the fight against Ebola. The group will also raise money for the organizations fighting the disease and dealing with its consequences.The campaign encourages volunteers to help rake leaves in the surrounding community. Community members who choose to have their lawns raked are asked to donate to an organization fighting Ebola....
“Suffering anywhere is suffering everywhere. I see no distinction in helping the person down the block and the person around the world except for the costs involved,” Jim Mahar, advisor of BonaResponds, said.

From the Olean Times Herald:

"....spread this campaign by telling friends and using the hashtag #endebola on their social media profiles. BonaResponds hopes this campaign will grow into something bigger by making it a challenge, reminiscent of the recently popular “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.”Volunteers can challenge others to raise $100 for the cause or donate $10 themselves.
... because the disease is affecting such a poor part of the world, it is especially difficult to treat."

From Time Warner Cable News Buffalo

"...if you go to they can sign up if they want their lawn mowed, or raked or anything that they want done, they can describe the job and then they can decide if they are going to make a donation to whichever group their doing it to, "