BonaResponds Blog
Bahamas trip and upcoming events
Wed, 15 Jan 2020 18:22:00 +0000
So much news, so little time!

In speed more, here goes:

  1. The Bahamas trip was VERY productive.  8 wheelchair ramps done, three roofs tarped,  three buildings (one house, one office, one apartment) gutted/partially gutted, 3 places where we did mold abatement, floorboards installed, classroom discussion on service and importance of education made, we worked one day at the YMCA, and ??  not sure what else I am missing.  The volunteers were GREAT and the people we helped were very happy to get the assistance!  
  2. We are going back!  Feb 28-March 8/9   Come with us!  We have jobs lined up, a place to stay, the tools are in shipment, but we need volunteers.  Look for a couple of meetings as soon as school starts back up.  Or contact any of the BonaResponds leaders (Maggie, Evan, Kelly, or Natalie will have the most info on it... or me (  
  3. Locally: have many jobs backed up.  First (given the weather) we will be doing iPads, Blankets, and an emergency production of Marsupial blankets.  Look for it Saturday, January 25 in Swan.    Also, have a workday at the Warming House coming up--I suspect Sunday, January 26th.   Moving forward, we need a couple of packing days (for the Bahamas and for Haiti), we also have a request to paint in Portville for aquaponics program there.   and of course, there are MANY ramps waiting for nicer weather.  
  4. Nationally: we want a short weekend trip to Cleveland.  The idea is to work at St. Francis Elementary school again AND to have an educational component, a service component, and a basketball tournament.  
  5. Internationally: Haiti: shipments, more work on microloans, and hopefully an educational conference with Enactus.    ALSO and this is MY favorite: more gardens and tree planting.  and of course fundraising for   
  6. Internationally: Sierra Leone: new gardens, more educational projects, working to reduce suicides by working on personal worth and projects to spread hope and jobs.  
Fall break trip
Fri, 27 Sep 2019 13:35:00 +0000

BonaResponds' Fall Break trip will be to......Cleveland!   It is still too early (and expensive) to get the Bahamas, so we will be working at St. Francis Elementary school in Cleveland.

Jobs will include installing a new floor, painting, cleaning, installing a garden, and much more.  It is a poor school that can really use our help!  And a former BR leader works there so it will make our trip even more rewarding! 

There are a limited number of spaces available.  Cost is $40.  Includes transport and food.  We will be sleeping in cots on the basketball court.    

This Saturday we will be helping rebuild Olean's King Street park.  Meet at the BR trailer at GASP  8:45.  It should be a fun day helping put up playground equipment and landscaping!

ALSO for the Bahamas, we will be collecting school supplies, coloring books and crayons and toys for Christmas.  We have to ship before Thanksgiving.  So when you are home for break, or just out shopping, we would love donated items.  You can always drop off at 104B in Swan.  

thanks everyone!!!!


BonaResponds meetings
Thu, 05 Sep 2019 18:42:00 +0000

BonaResponds General Meeting Monday, September 9, 2019 at 5:15-6:00 in Swan 101.  

Topics will include Local workdays, HaitiScholarships, PositiveRipples, and a brief intro for our hurricane relief efforts.  

The world needs you to help.  We need you to help.   

We have many needs but we especially need people to help with social media, website design, and Maintenance for HaitiScholarships and PositiveRipples, people to help collect items for school projects in Haiti and the Bahamas, people to help with logistics of people and supplies to aid in all of our projects, people to clean up and set up used iPads for schools in Bahamas and Haiti, and people to make and deliver WarmSnugglyBlankets for people with cancer.  

We also would like a few people to coordinate our microloan program in Haiti and expand it to Sierra Leone.  FINALLY, we need some people to help set up a series of 3 on 3 basketball tournaments in Haiti, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and  (maybe) the Bahamas. 

Then, on Thursday at 6:00 PM there will a joint Enactus/BonaResponds meeting in the Walsh Auditorium to focus on hurricane relief efforts in the Bahamas.   Enactus has been going to the Bahamas for 18 years.  The destruction from Hurricane Dorian is catastrophic with flooding and winds of over 180 MPH.  It very well could be the most challenging hurricane relief efforts we have undertaken and we need the help of the entire Bonaventure community.   

Volunteer and change the world!   

Open to all.  

The Good is winning. Even though it may not always seem like it
Wed, 21 Nov 2018 19:38:00 +0000
Every day (and indeed every life) has some good and some bad. It important to remember that. We must face and admit the “bad”, but we can not dwell on it or it will paralyze us and halt our progress.
To say "It is a good day" or "It is a bad day" is in many ways just sloppy or incomplete thinking. Every day is good AND bad.
Every day, babies are born and people die; fortunes are lost and fortunes are made; teams win and other teams lose. It is life. Good and bad.
I hold as a central tenet of my existence that we should our attention as much as possible on the good and on the things that we can exert some influence over, while not focus as much on the “bad” and the “scary” that will be there always waiting to hijack our minds and, by extension, our efforts.
That said, today my updates have a large proportion of news I wish I didn't need to share.
The day started off a text from Charles in Freeport Bahamas that “Mama Marge” a wonderful friend who had become a regular acquaintance of those on the Enactus/BR trips had passed away this morning of cancer. She was a wonderful woman who ran a small souvenir shop in Port Lucaya. But the economy has been bad there and she lacked material wealth. Last year a group of volunteers cut back trees so her house could be seen (she had been robbed and hoped more visibility would help) and painted her home. She offered them all food. And yet, when I went inside her home, she confided that things were so tough her water had been turned off. But in spite of that, she was always willing to help, always there with a hug, and some words of advice. I hope that her life serves as a reminder that we should never judge a person’s success by the amount of money in his/her bank account, but by the way (s)he treated others. She will be greatly missed by all.
Less than an hour later, I received news from Sierra Leone that one of CAMSL’s leaders (our partner group there) had been rushed to the hospital. BUT the doctor needed to be paid ($250) for the surgery. Stop and think about that. I do not know the answer. Doctors need to be paid AND people (yes, even the poor) need to be cared for. I just do not know.
In a similar vein, I then read this. I should start off by saying I HATE cancer. I truly hate it. It causes such suffering. It took my mom, it took “mama Marge” today in the Bahamas, many of you are fighting it as you read this. I hate the disease.
While our ability to fight cancer is improving, a cancer diagnosis is still scary. Nowhere is that truer than in poor countries. Take for instance, Haiti. Haiti has limited health care facilities and even more limited funding for treatments. The nurses and doctors, often undertrained and overworked, struggle in incredible conditions. The patients suffer not only from their disease but from lack of adequate care. Today’s Miami Herald did the necessary and painful job of reminding us how much help is still needed. (I think this should come with a warning, you will want to get some tissues).…/…/haiti/article217050580.html…
Then we had our own updates from Haiti. For those of you who don’t know, Haiti has been having days of protests and strikes to protest government corruption. Schools have been shut. Banks closed. Public (and most private) transportation non-existent. In Les Cayes our wells were scheduled to be shut for a day of cleaning and repainting, but city officials asked that they remain open. Microloan recipients have been forced (due to safety concerns) to temporarily close their businesses. A school leader is stuck in Port Au Prince and unable to travel home because of the violence. These are all bad things. I do not know the solution. Violence is wrong. Corruption is wrong. Abuse of power is wrong. But when they happen, how do we stop it? Education and patience are great but can be so slow. I do not know.
I started by saying that every day is both good and bad. The bad only appears to be winning. We can remember the bad easier. Bad news gets our attention more readily. So in spite of everything I just wrote, and in spite of the way today APPEARS to be going, I want to say that the good is actually winning.
As evidence let me just give you a few examples. Today, we were able to help someone in Sierra Leone get his needed surgery. Today in Sierra Leone, children went to school with school supplies and school uniforms. Today in Leogane Haiti,, we were able (through HaitiScholarships) check in to make sure all of the students were safe. Today in and around Les Cayes Haiti,, hundreds of people are able to have clean water from our wells on a day when traveling to a distant well might be too dangerous. Today, around the USA our Blankets are reminding people with cancer that they matter and that where there is life, there is hope. Today, we have 53 students in school in Liberia who would not be there if not for your generosity. Today, in the Bahamas, seeds are being planted for our garden program that will begin in January. Today in Haiti and the Bahamas, many people have roofs over their heads that do not leak because of your donations and the hard work of volunteers and Bahamians and Haitians. Today, we have people around the country getting in and out of their homes because of the wheelchair ramps that your donations have allowed us to make. Today, you are alive and can read this.
So today, when someone asks “how was your day?” I hope you hesitate just a bit to remember all of those who are going through so much but then answer “it is a good day-- the good is winning.”
From my (Jim's) page, so I am copying it here too. have a good day! 
If you want to help with any of these projects, you can donate or or We really can't do it without you!
How to get involved from off campus.
Mon, 06 Aug 2018 19:39:00 +0000

From out FB post:   

We will be having many big work days coming up, but some of you can't travel and most of you are away from campus now, so how can you help right now? From where you are?  Here is a SHORT list of ways from home.

1.  We are collecting small toys, school supplies, children clothes, winter boots, and children books for the St. Bonaventure Indian Mission and School. We will be packing on August 26th.

2. We are packing small toiletries, granola bars, NEW  socks, NEW underwear, and winter jackets for Outside the Walls to distribute to the homeless.  Also, tee shirts.

3. We are still collecting tools, medical supplies, school supplies, soccer equipment, for schools and medical centers in Haiti. We are also collecting the large (empty) bags that pet food comes in! 

4. We need pill bottles for a packing event where we will be shipping fishing and garden "kits" to Africa and Haiti.  The fishing kits are in honor of a NYS trooper who lost his life.  The family sends hundreds as a way to keep his memory alive while helping others.

5. Don't like any of these options?  Buy a backpack (donate $55 at or at  The money will buy the backpack, buy school supplies, and pay for a month of schooling in Haiti.  (HaitiScholarships PositiveRipples).  The backpacks will then be donated to a student in Haiti (unless you want them and that can be arranged).

6. Agree to help manage the PositiveRipples/HatiScholarships social media pages. Or to work on the WarmSnugglyBlanket Web page. 

7. Like science?  or Marketing?  We are looking for some people to work on a carbon offset reforestation program in Haiti.  We need a website developed, and help in marketing the program to individuals, businesses, and organizations (classes, teams, and church groups)

8. Still haven't found how you want to help? Donate to this great GoFundMe page.  We are trying to educate 53 #Ebola Orphans in Liberia and could really really use your help!

If none of these excites you, let us know.   We will see what we can do to come up with a project tailored to your needs!
Early April updates
Sat, 07 Apr 2018 12:45:00 +0000
So much happening!

BIG announcement:


Next trip: May 15-22 (assuming we get people signed up) back to Dickinson Texas. We'd love to have you along with us!

Other updates:

* Spring into Bonas went very well! Thank you to those who came out and helped!
* The aquaponics program at Portville school is almost ready. Great great work by Natalie and Evan of UrbanBiosphere!
* On April 19 we have 25 high school students coming from Olean High School to Campus to see what a day in college is like. If you are on campus and can help, we would LOVE the help!
* BonaResponds/Positive agreed to buy approximately 500 coffee trees in Les Cayes. $150 a year will be given back to an agriculture fund once the trees start producing.
* 20 fishermen ended their three days of training on loans for nets. Tomorrow they will clean up the beaches by where they fish. Next week they will be able to go back to their jobs for the first time in 18 months (since Matthew). EXCELLENT work by Jean Emmanuel Verdier and his crew!
* Harvests in Sierra Leone went great. Bangura Alimamy Tejan is doing a great job over there and we hope to be long-term partners.
* I think we are now over 115 microloans (mainly through Tout Moun Se Moun and PositiveRipples ) in Les Cayes and Leogane Haiti have all been paid off :)
* FINALLY getting updates from Bishop Nelson Sampson Boegbah and his crew in Liberia. This has been our most difficult program this year. The need is so great there, but we need a better system. A work in progress :) :) The Ebola orphans cannot be forgotten. PERIOD!
* Refunds for Praebibo should finally have gone out this week. Sorry for the delay.
* We are looking for a used van/truck. Possibly Explorer? Any suggestions/donations would be great!
* The Trails have taken a beating due to the winter storms. We have been out numerous times already but there is much work to be done.
* Two great videos focusing on BonaResponds/@Chris Branche came out this week for Spring Into Bonas:

* Next big things internationally: WE HOPE: water well near Les Cayes Haiti, aquaponics near Leogane Haiti, a Cassava farm in Sierra Leone, another payment for the Ebola Orphans in Liberia, and a shipment of medical and school supplies (maybe some sporting goods too?) to Haiti.

* Coming up locally: many many wheelchair ramps are lined up as soon as the snow leaves.

Thanks everyone!!!

(to donate for the international projects, please donate at


Spring break sign up!!!
Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:07:00 +0000
It is time to sign up for the BonaResponds trip to Houston

It is not too late to sign up for the Spring Break trip to Houston to help with rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey

We will be there from Feb 23-March 3.

How does it work? 

Step 1: You buy airline tickets (Cleveland -Houston has been cheap)
Step 2:  Pay $50 (non-refundable) to reserve your spot (it will also be used to buy shirts, food, supplies, and tools)   
  • (NOTE: if you can not afford it, there are some scholarships available based on need and the number of previous BonaResponds local work days you have done.)
 Step 3: Forward your flight info to and JMahar@sbu ASAP.  Use Subject line: Houston BR flight Information

Step 5: look for upcoming meetings and announcements on details of the trip to be coming soon! We will likely have a meeting next Tuesday to answer questions and help with flight booking. 

Note:   depending on fundraising, we HOPE to be able to reimburse SBU students, Faculty, and Staff some of the airline costs.  This will happen AFTER the trip and will be contingent on funding and service in Houston. 

  1. Yes, this is open to everyone!  A great way to meet up with family and friends you don't get to see all the time!
  2. Food and shelter are provided.
  3. You should have a good pair of work boots. 
  4. You can come for part of the time.  
  5. You can (as many alumni are doing) get a hotel nearby, but it really is more fun to stay in the church hall.
  6. You will need a sleeping bag.
  7. We will arrange ground transportation.  (Pickups will be much more common at the Hobby airport, so please try to fly in there.  If you fly into George Bush Intl airport, you should be prepared to wait for a ride--of course Uber is a choice--I was told it costs $70)--our pickup and drop off is free---NOTE: we must have times by Feb 9 for this option).
  8. Most important things to bring?  A good attitude and a willingness to make a difference!   

It will be the best spring break trip you can make.  It will be work, but it will also be fun and you will not only make new friends but make the world a bit better too! 

Texas Trip FAQ's
Wed, 20 Dec 2017 18:38:00 +0000
I shared these on FB.  Thought they might be helpful here too:

Book your flights!

We hope to see many of you there! We will be working in and around Dickinson Texas (Feb 23-March 3).


* Yes, you can come for part of the time.
* Yes, you can bring family and friends
* Yes, you can make a big difference.
* Yes, there will be work.
* Yes, there is still a need. Just because it is not on the news does not mean there is still not a need.
* Yes, you can donate (we are looking to subsidize the cost of the trip for all students if at all possible). Don't want to pay for students, fine :) donate $50 to positiverRpples ( and buy 5 sheets of drywall!)
* Yes, we can pick you up at the airport. Hobby pickups will be regular, at George Bush Airport MUCH more infrequent.
* Yes, if you prefer, you can arrange an Uber ride.
* Yes, you can come for only a few days --but the longer the better!
* Yes, if you are there for the entire week, you will have time to relax (the Gulf is about 5 miles from Camp)
* Yes, you can donate supplies? Home Depot cards are perfect as we will be 4 miles from a HomeDepot. Don't want to do that? Buy drywall there and we can arrange pickup/delivery.
* Yes, I am sure you have a million reasons to not go. But you only need one reason to come. You want to help!
* Yes, you will need boots, a sleeping bag, and a good attitude! (other things are helpful too--see website)
* Yes, we are still looking for people to drive vehicles with tools and supplies down and back.
* We will be working with the Mount Olive Baptist Church in Dickinson but we will be helping people in need regardless of faith, color, or anything else.
* No, you do not need to be a student.
* No, kids under 16 should not come without special permission.
* Yes, Food will be provided on site.
* Yes, it is usually warmer in Texas than in Western NY
* Yes, you should come! :)

To come: book tickets and let us know! :)
THE SOONER THE BETTER! :) so we know how many tools/cots/showers/etc we need.
Update on many things :)
Wed, 01 Nov 2017 16:44:00 +0000
I know, I know.  I ask too much. :)  sorry. and these have not been vetted by anyone, so here goes....thanks and sorry in advance:

First a few success stories:  

  1. Thank you to everyone who helped SIMM out!  We raised almost double our goal (with some money still coming in), qualified for the $16,250 match (so about $48,000 raised), and brought many "younger" alumni back into the donor universe (which will make advancement and alumni relations very happy).  It was a good project and advancement worked very hard (great job Janet and crew!)  THANK YOU!
  2. Pending the dispersal of the funds we (PositiveRipples) transferred last week, we will have Bishop Nelson's Ebola orphans in school!!  HUGE success.  Thank you to everyone, but Joe (and Pat) Coate deserve a special thank you on that!  That area has a LONG ways to go (getting about 50 students through high-school (college?) is a big endeavor, but 3 years in, and they are still going!  :)  Next there will be more sustainable farming programs to raise money for the kids to attend school next year while also learning a life-skill.  (We are largely modeling this on what we already do in Haiti and our newest large garden program in Sierre Leone which is JUST starting but with local variations--for instance we also are planning on planting 1000 rubber trees in Liberia in addition to a garden for food).


Now, the "if you want to get involved" and other updates: 

  1. PenPal program: we have started a pen pal program (Largely led by Enactus) that will help tie together people from around the world.  (personal commentary-I think too often the world becomes "us" vs "them".  The biggest guiding principle at the foundation of BonaResponds is that we are all the same.  We just need to get to know "our neighbors".   We would love to have you (or your family) or others you know involved.  here is a video on how it will   work:

  2. Houston spring break trip:   this is a definite go!  Fly down, fly back.  Our scouting trip over fall break went well and I am sure that we can make a big impact.  It is of course way off of everyone's radar so I do not see any way to get 200 people (or the money to buy supplies for 200 people working), but I do hope to take 100 or more.  Here are the words of a volunteer leader there: "- the lack of media coverage has resulted in a rapid decrease in donations and contributions. People will be rebuilding for the next two years. Your help will help individuals and families get a real jump start on recovery. You are needed more now than ever."   We'd love to have you along!  there is a signup form at or just ask me :) 
  3. EASIEST: Thursday as part of the president's inauguration celebrations, we hope to make over 100 WarmSnugglyBlankets.  We have multiple rooms reserved from 11:30 to 1:00.  We will start in  Swan101-103 and go from there.  The impact of the blankets is one of the biggest surprises to me.   For instance (slightly edited to assure privacy) here is an email I got today: "I just wanted to say that this is a wonderful gift for cancer patients.  You may not know, but my daughter is currently on her fifth and final cycle of Roswell....These blankets help her as she is always cold when getting chemo...just wanted you to know how great these blankets are and, hopefully, once she is on the road to recovery from her treatment, we will be able to join BonaResponds in helping to make these blankets."  Come out and help make the blankets.  If nothing else, you can come out and hear me fight back tears as I describe the project.  It happens every single time. (FYI we have given out over 1300 of them now).  
Hurricane Relief Trip Interest meeting
Tue, 24 Oct 2017 20:08:00 +0000
This Thursday (October 26, 2017) we will be having an interest meeting for those wishing to help in Texas over spring break.  The meeting is at 5:15 in the Walsh Auditorium on the Bonaventure Campus.   Come volunteer and change the world!

Fall break trip and MUCH more....are you coming with us for spring break??
Fri, 29 Sep 2017 21:11:00 +0000
Update on several fronts:

1. Great talk with All Hands Volunteers! Always an amazing group. Will be working with them (and others) in February in Houston area. (are you coming with us??) Others include