Friday, December 25, 2015

BonaResponds was given Santa's WishList!

Merry Christmas Everyone! I am very happy to announce that BonaResponds has announced a Joint Venture with ‪#‎Santa‬ !
It is a long story, but I had a blast telling it, so enjoy:
In the spirit of an old Art Buchwald piece....
I am really happy to announce that BonaResponds will be working with Santa this year! And we would love you to help!
How did this joint venture come about? Well, it is a long story. It seems one day this past summer I emailed Santa to set up a meeting.
It turns out that August is a good time to reach Santa as production plans are in place but it is before the actual requests come in. So he had time to respond. We carried on a fairly long email correspondance (unfortunately it was on my account and the entire conversation had to be deleted due to lack of storage, but I digress).
The Highlights:
Me: “Every day we see more and more that the world turns on ‪#‎BigData‬. From all around the world, you get billions of requests each year for what people want. None of them have signed confidentiality agreements, your terms of service say nothing about selling or leasing the data. You are sitting on a gold mine!”
Santa: “Yes, I know. Or actually We know. I now have a CIE (Chief Information Elf) who makes incredibly accurate forecasts on the demand side and then also does wonders on the logistics side to save the reindeer much work come Christmas Eve.”
Me: “Wow, that is awesome! You your list is now not just on paper?”
Santa: “Oh no, that is just for traditionalists and marketing. We have some of the world’s best computers that you never have heard of (we make our own). And our databases? Well, let’s just say, I never forget. Remember that time you lied about doing your homework?”
Me: “What if someone hacked it? I bet it would be worth Trillions! You could sway elections, break up relationships, or even bring down major religions.”
Santa: “That is why we are so secretive and have it all under security that Snowden and crew can’t even imagine. We are at least 100 years ahead of the curve. Let me put it this way, Our tech security is to the NSA what the Reindeer team is to the UPS and the Post Office.”
Me: “Can I see it?”
Santa: “Sure, come on up next week. You can speak with Bill the CIE who will help you understand some of it and get a tour.”
Me: “Sorry I can’t. I have to teach next week. I could never get that approved as a research expense. And besides, isn’t really cold there?
Santa: “It is a bit chilly, but thanks to Global Warming it is much warmer than it used to be. One of my early mistakes: If I could go back in time, I think I would have given bad Boys and Girls celery instead of coal.”
Me: “How did you know I dislike celery?”
Santa: “You forget who you are talking to.”
Me: “Then you also know what I am asking for?”
Santa: “I have known since your first email. You want access to the Wish List.”
Me: “Can I have it? Please? I promise I won’t trade on it. I am sure insider trading would get me on the bad list”
Santa: “You are already on it. But let me think about it. We can have a video meeting next week.
The Next week on Skype:
Santa: “Hi! Glad you could make it. How is the first week of classes going?”
Me: “Oh you know. The typical problems. But the students are good.”
Santa: “HOHOHO You don’t need to tell me who is good or bad. That is my job! HOHOHO. Your students have been MOSTLY good. HO HO HO” (he really does laugh like that)
Santa: “I have been thinking about your request. I have a plan. I will share the list with you but only the non-tangible items on the list. I can’t tell you the number of toy trucks, baseballs, etc asked for. But I can tell you top non tangible things. BUT on the sole condition that you do not tell anyone until after I am done with this year’s delivery.”
Me: “Wow. Thank you! Yes. Please! I am speechless.”
Santa: “I am actually surprised for the first time in months. You speechless? You never shut up! Ho Ho Ho.”
Santa: “I am giving you the list because I think it is important to remind people that all around the world people want the same things. And that what people most want are things that I can not bring.
Me: “I don’t understand”
Santa: “You never were a very bright boy. Let me explain. I run the best and most efficient not-for-profit in the world. We make people happy all around the globe. We do it without government, university, or the Gates’ foundation backing. But we can’t do everything. We can make toys, build computers, program software and even grow food (our greenhouses are amazing and we outsource around the world). But we can not deliver intangible items.”
Me: “So how can I help?”
Santa: “Well, truth be told I am not sure you can. In fact my staff recommended that we cancel today’s meeting and I send you an email saying that something came up and I was too busy. But you know a wide variety of people and maybe you can tell the right person. Post it on facebook, put it on your blogs, etc.
You have some really good people at BonaResponds. Great group. Too bad you lead it and as a result of your poor marketing get so few volunteers, but none-the-less, I bet this message will go to some people who can help.”
Me: “Ok, sorry I don’t live up to your standards. I do try.”
Santa: “Yes, Yes. Always trying, rarely succeeding. Your life story. I will make it simple for you: We send you the list, and you post it. Easy enough?”
Me: “Yes. I can do that”
Santa: “Ok, good. I expect to see it on Christmas day. Or more likely I will see it on the 26th. I sleep most of the 25th.”
Me: “Thank you Santa! I will.”
A few seconds later I got the email from the CIE:
“Dear Jim,
Santa asked me to send you the compiled list of the top non-tangible items that people have requested. If you can be of any assistance on this list, it would be greatly appreciated.
Top Ten Intangible Wishlist items compiled by NorthPole Industries
1. Peace (includes items: end of war, no more terrorism etc)
2. Health (includes a cure for cancer, No more heart disease etc)
3. Happiness (includes To be Happy, That others are happy etc)
4. A home (includes “a place to live”, “a warmer house”, “to be able to stay at home”, etc)
5. An education (includes “Let me go to school”, “Let my children stay in school”, and “let my children have a better world” etc)
6. An end to violence (includes “no more domestic violence”, “less gun violence”, “no more robberies” etc)
7. A job (includes: “let me feed my family”, to “let me pay my debts”, to “let me make the world better”)
8. Less Stress (Includes: “let me relax”, “let me sleep better”, “let me not worry about personal safety” “let me know where my next meal is coming from” etc)
9. A better environment (Includes “Better environment”, “Save the ____”, “end Global Warming”
10. That people around the world become better neighbors (Includes: “End Arab-Muslim fighting”, “Let my family get along better”, and “That we all get along”.
Technical Note:
Many of these are interconnected (for instance #1, #6, #7, #10) are at some level all the same.
The list is the aggregate for the past 100 years. There have been some fluctuations. For instance, prior to the introduction of capitalism into China, “more food” was a perennial top 3 request. It is still very important but has declined.
Good luck with the list. I hope you can get the word out. Feel free to use Santa’s name on this. He said all of us here are to put the list on our New Year’s Resolution list. Thank goodness the silly idea of self-evaluations ended a few centuries ago here. Back a few hundred years ago he would have had us putting all of these on our evaluations. Never worked. Oh well. back to work. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
PS, I think if you achieve these items, you might even get back on the good list. Santa has not had to stop at your house for quite a while. He always did like your mom’s cookies!
William Elf
Chief Information Elf
North Pole Enterprises
So there you have it. The “LIST”. I got that back in late August. For 4 months it has been at the center of my thoughts. I have come up with a plan how BonaResponds and YOU can help Santa:
The plan is really really simple.
1. Love your neighbor
2.. We are all neighbors
3. Help your neighbor
That is my plan. Santa has signed off on it. We can do this!
While the plan is simple, delivering on all of the requests will take work. It will take money. It will take time. But we can start now. We can start today. Indeed, we must start soon. Every day we don’t start, means more suffering for people.
Merry Christmas. And thank you Santa for offering us a glimpse at your list and showing that #BigData really can make the world a better place when used correctly!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Christmas Liberia

Let's take a virtual mind-tour today. As you read this, think of what it would be like to be in the shoes of the poor at our port of call.

Today we will be going to Liberia on the Western shores of Africa. As you now it was at the epicenter of the 2014 Ebola outbreak. It was also the location of two brutal civil wars in the decades before that.

It is a country where we can make a big difference in people’s lives for not too large of investment.

our virtual tour will be via:

Which brings us to this AM. Bishop Nelson who we have worked with since the Ebola Crisis (and whom I learned of before the crisis via Pete at CYC) emailed the following this AM:

"As we reach the Christmas season in Liberia, the Christian Youth Corps - Africa celebrate the yearly youth camp right after the Christmas with street kids from market places, street kids from street corner and get-to the place gang.
Last Year 2014 the youth camp was celebrated with 118 Ebola victim orphans in Dolo Town, Maigibi County closed to the Robert International airport.

I teach finance, so let’s do the math.  

158 children at camp.  (98 from Orphanage + 10 Street Children + 50 from local churches)
4 days of camp
632 person camp days.

That is 54 cents per child per day.  

No, it will not solve all the world’s problems.  But it will give these children some structure, some learning, some food, and some hope.  That seems like a good investment to me.  Who agrees? 
Who is in?

Friday, December 04, 2015

Update and Newsletter link.

Sorry it is so long. Have been too busy to post regular updates these past few weeks (10 weeks of our Weekend MBA program MAY end up killing me yet!)

Theme (and my main mantra as I limp into the end of the semester):
We can't do everything, but we can do some things.

Here are a few of the things going on at BonaResponds this week!

1. Sat: 2pm, Sunday 11:30: Ramp build!! Come out. PLEASE :)
2. We have been totally slammed on job requests. I started telling people it will likely be March-April at earliest for local jobs. :(
3. The Solar electric system in our trailer took another step closer to reality as the switches and conduit were installed :) Very excited about this! Thanks Rob for arranging it and everyone involved!
4. The shipment (cost $3000 to ship) of donated items is set to arrive at the orphanage in Liberia tomorrow (Saturday). We look forward to hearing from Bishop Nelson on it.
5. We want to create a council/board of Haitian volunteers (thinking 9 people?, at least 3 female, 3 male at any point) to help oversee and decide on projects we will be working on in Haiti. terms would be staggered at one and two years. If you are interested in joining this project, please let us know. MUST be able to meet and respond online in a timely fashion.
6. The #BonasandBeyond online economics class has been a failure.. Few signed up and fewer still are doing it. It is a great idea but we need to rethink the "how".
7. Be sure to follow our new Instagram account (@BonaResponds).
8. We HOPE to ship the next shipment to Haiti this coming week (hope does not equate to a guarantee). It is much smaller than most of our shipments, but getting the boxes of soccer equipment out of my office will be GREATLY appreciated LOL.) Anyone who wants to help pack this, please speak up :)
9. Our collection of Children's books for local schools is winding down. It turned out to be smaller than last year. I think because it is so difficult to get the word out to people given the decline in FB views and so few shares. (blame me!)
10. We took advantage of Black Friday specials and amazingly generous donations from the Coates (Joe and Pat) and Zimmers (John and Anne) (also a huge thank you to Exxon-Mobil) to buy two new impact drivers and batteries.
11. I know I said it last weekend, but last Saturday's work day (we finished steps and an elevated deck in pitch darkness) will be long remembered as one of the most "BonaRespondsy" days we have ever had.
12. Online shopping? Support BR at the same time: Go to and pick BonaResponds as your charity!
13. Thank you again to Carolyn and Yvonne for our Nov Newsletter: You can see it and much more at out blog or at our main web page: or at
14. Thank you also to anyone who donated on Giving Tuesday. I will get the names of donors this weekend. THANK YOU in advance! Without you BonaResponds is just a good idea.
15. Looked back on goals for 2015. Successes: make a positive difference in all that we do. Help people cope with difficult times. Make the world better. Failures: get more volunteers involved. Get more SBU faculty and staff involved, get solar electric to two more schools in Haiti, start English tutoring program in Haiti. (I guess I better get busy in December!!!)
16. Look for a story on the #BonasandBeyond program inthe SBU Bonaventure magazine (I think it comes out next week)
17. As the world turns its attention on preventing global warming, let me suggest a donation of trees to your family and friends at Christmas time. a $50 donation will allow 25 trees to be planted in Haiti. This will help the Haitian economy, reforest the land (lessening erosion and flooding), AND help reduce co2 in the atmosphere).
18. Make Christmas special for those less fortunate! Two specific opportunities: December 12: in Dallas TX and in Newalla OK.
19. A couple more blankets went out this week. I KNOW a better system can be designed for it. I KNOW it. Also thank you to Kim Palmer for sewing on more patches!
20. Did you see our "wishlist"? Look below on FB or on our blog. You can see where your donations will go.
21. On the horizon: a microloan program ($20-$30 loans) in Les Cayes Haiti and a larger one ($40-$50) in Gonaives Haiti. VERY exciting!
22. As the world seems so violent and kilers and terrorists dominate the news, my only advice: Love all, serve all. We all have tough battles. We can all use a hand from time to time. Be that helping hand. Don't look at the color of skin, the religion of the recipient. Just help.

Newsletter  :

November Newsletter
View this email in your browser
Look at how much we've been up to this semester!
This Fall semester has been busy for our BonaResponds volunteers. We have built three set of steps, took down and cleaned up two garages,  and five ramps for local homes in need. BonaResponds also helped to renovate a home in Allegany by insulating, drywalling, installing a new door, and giving the exterior a
fresh painting. 

Haiti Students

This semester, Bonas and Beyond hosted 13 students from Haiti to experience St. Bonaventure. They attended class, participated in campus events, and took trips around Western New York including seeing Niagara Falls. The students resided in Fourth Loughlen and exchanged their culture with ours. These few weeks were a great success and we hope that this Bonas and Beyond program will continue in years to come!
Our new friends experience one of the Wonders of the World!
Collecting school supplies, clothing, and books is  an on going project for BonaResponds.

The semester women's business clothes that were donated to us by a local fire department were distributed in Olean, Buffalo, Newalla Oklahoma, and Dallas Texas.  Additionally toys and books were given out locally and to children in Newalla OK where we worked with groups that we worked with after the floods this summer (and 2013 tornado)

Internationally, our biggest shipment this semester went to many groups across Haiti.  But our international assistance also included  over a dozen boxes of  school supplies and shoes arrived this past week in Costa Rica and a larger shipment to the orphanage in Monrovia Liberia that we have been working with since the midst of last year's Ebola Crisis when the number of orphans they were helping grew from 26 to 118.

Locally, this year will mark our second annual book giveaway to local school children to help those less fortunate have access to books in their own homes.

We are always accepting donations to help others in need. Things such as school supplies, books, clothing, shoes, and sports equipment are always appreciated!

St. Bonaventure's Students in Money Management (SIMM) awarded BonaResponds $3,000 at the Home Opening Men.s Basketball game during halftime.  We earned the money by getting over 26,000 votes in the SIMM online voting contest.  This money will be used towards funding a number of our future projects in Haiti that grew our of the Bonas and Beyond program.  A big thank you to St. Bonaventure's SIMM club. 

From Jim's messy Desk:

I promised I would keep my part short, so here goes:

  1. THANK YOU to all who continue to donate to allow all of these good programs to be realities.  Without you, BonaResponds is just a good idea and the thousands of people we have helped do not receive our assistance.  From us, and them, THANK YOU!
  2. Please remember BonaResponds on #GivingTuesday!  Also, if you are doing online shopping, please go through and select us as your charity.  So far we have earned about $450 (roughly half of a ramp) :) 
  3. This semester marked the 10th anniversary of our founding after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Time sure flies!  We are thinking of doing a spring break reunion trip (spring break is Feb 27-March 6.)  Please reply and let us know if you are interested in attending (not sure where yet).
  4. The Bonas and Beyond program may be the highlight of the semester.  Look for an extended article (even with my first "photo shoot" in the upcoming Bonaventure Magazine.  (I think it is out December 10th). 
  5. We have been very short on volunteers on most weekends.  While we got a great deal done, 3 or 4 more volunteers a weekend would make a HUGE difference.  How about volunteering once a month?  Another idea: get your business, team, club, family, church, class involved!
  6. Thank you to the SBU Business School's Pacioli Scholars Program for their generous donations to help sponsor the Bonas and Beyond program as well as to fund Yvonne's and Carolyn's jobs (without whom this newsletter would not have gotten done!) 
  7. Thank you everyone! The semester has been good.  With your help the next semester can be great!


BonaResponds International SERVICE DAY!

We are bringing the popular International Service Day back!  (ok it is a weekend)  Mark your calendar for April 9th and 10th.  Plan your projects now!  Wherever you are and whoever you are.  Everyone can help make the world a better place! 

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