Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Pictures from Second Buffalo trip are online!

Group ohoto time
Group ohoto time,
originally uploaded by FinanceProfessor.
At least the first set of pictures from this past weekend's trip to Buffalo are up. It was quite a day! 40 homes were cleared of downed tress, branhces, and tje like

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's not Katrina, but it is still pretty bad

BonaResponds to Buffalo

Come help the Buffalo area recover from the worst natural disaster to strike the US mainland since Katrina. BonaResponds will again go to Buffalo this Sunday (10/22) and next Sunday (10/29).

We will be working in several sites. Most work is picking up downed branches, but there will be work at base headquarters (logistical and administrative etc.) Added brownie points to anyone with chain saws and chain saw experience.

Headquarters will be the Town Maintenance Garage in Lancaster (Broadway and Center streets). From there we will spread out across the region until regrouping at 5 p.m. for a short meeting and returning shortly after 7 p.m.

We expect to leave the Murphy and Plassmann parking lots at 9:15 a.m. Please car pool. We hope to have a few vans available as well, but no guarantees.

Dress to work: boots, work gloves, and old clothes. And you will want to bring dry clothes and a change of shoes for after (trust us on that ;))

Like all BonaRespond events, this is open to everyone! Help spread the word. Have your friends from other schools meet us.

Having seen it first hand, we can say it is really bad up there and many people have no way to move the downed trees that are on their properties. Additionally, community groups, parks, and schools are in desperate need of help.

As an additional incentive (if more is still needed), BonaResponds will knock $10 off the price of the spring break trips to anyone who works at least 5 hours in Buffalo (and if any donors want to match or add to that please e-mail us!)

While reservations are not required, they will make our planning much easier. Please e-mail BonaResponds@sbu.edu.
For more information check out BonaResponds.org


If you can't go but would like to help, we will accept both money or food donations. (Home-made cookies? Brownies? Or even just a loaf of bread for sandwiches would help!)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Comments on volunteering and BonaReponds specifically

Where to start? I was asked to write a short article for the BonaResponds Newsletter and immediately was at a loss. There is so much going on and so much planned that there is no way I could limit myself to two paragraphs. So I will do a blog article and allow the newsletter editors to pick from there.

First the facts. BonaResponds is going great! Almost everything is going as planned. We have expanded our goals from just the Gulf (which limited us due to distance and time) to helping out locally as well. While the Gulf trips will no doubt be what people most associate with BonaResponds, the local trips have proven very fun, helpful, and rewarding.

On our first two local service projects we put approximately $7000 of services into the local community on budget of less than $250! Talk about your return on investment! And that says nothing of the sense of community, good PR, and learning that went on during these days!

These local days have the additional benefit of helping train volunteers for the work they will be doing in the Gulf region. This training was not necessary on our first trip as much deconstruction and clean-up work (which anyone can do) was available. Now, over a year after Katrina, the work is changing towards construction and a more skilled mix of volunteers are needed. Hence the more people we train, the more we can take on our trips.

And then the BonaReponds to Buffalo. Great stuff. On almost zero notice. While the turnout from campus was not great, I think it showed how little things do matter a great deal. Whether you call it a ripple effect or butterfly effect or whatever, our little bit of help and guidance was quickly multiplied many times over by neighbor helping neighbor. By the end of the day, this small wave led to 11 lawns being cleared of debris and the entire neighborhood having a new sense of community and togetherness. (oh and they all said they want to come back and help next week! See I told you this was fun!!) It was truly a day to be proud of BonaResponds!

Yep, all in all things are just going very very well.

BUT that is not to say that things can not go even better. They can get better and they will get better. We aim to develop BonaResponds into a world-class organization to help people and to build better leaders and better communities (yes World Class!).

We have stepped up training. We have the majority of our new board of advisors in place (details to soon be announced). Even after the successful fast response to Buffalo’s snow storm we are reevaluating how we can respond faster and in a more orderly and efficient manner.

The biggest impediment is that we need to get more people involved. More leaders. Josh, Ryan, James, and Anthony have done phenomenal work, but we flat out need to have more help. Even if you live from a far (remember the world is flat!) you could help put the newsletter together or work on the website. Or make calls, or write up grants, or the list is endless. So please help. It will be the most rewarding thing you do every week.

Of course if you are local and want to help even better. We need someone to work with alumni, someone to work on fundraising, someone to lead new projects, to get more volunteers. We need someone to work with the media, someone to get more underclass students involved, someone to work with the local community groups. Gee aren’t we needy ;)

But our plans and needs should not detract from the work and the success that has occurred. You all know of the success of the Spring break trip: almost 300 people at 5 sites in Mississippi and Louisiana, thousands of school books collected and sorted for schools that had been largely destroyed, over $7500 of sporting goods donated to Little Leagues in the region. You may not know however that the trip led many students to go back down over the summer. You may not know that at least one former student took a year off to work with Americorp in Biloxi.

You probably do not know that at least 5 employers have called me to ask about the work that students have done on BonaResponds. Why? Employers love to see students who are involved in leadership and caring.

You probably do not know of the untold friendships, memories, and life-changing events that have happened.

Yep, BonaResponds is a success. This was driven home when I recently had the opportunity to go to three speakers in the Olean area who all more or less described BonaResponds.

The first speaker was Thomas Oreck, the CEO of Oreck Vaccuum. Their headquarters in New Orleans were destroyed as were their production facilities in Long Beach. He spoke on the importance of management caring for others, of flexible thinking, and of a can-do attitude. All three things have become trademarks of BonaResponds.

The second speaker was Brother Ed. He was speaking as part of Francis Week on Francis’ transformational moments; the moments that changed Francis’ life. The key point? Francis was transformed when he reached out, when he went out and met others. Again this is BonaResponds.

The final speaker was Sharon Parks. She was speaking on developing leaders and the changing business environment. Very eloquently she stressed the need to work with people of all walks of life, of adopting a flexibility in management that is adapts to conditions but is grounded in purpose. Later at dinner she emphasized how little things matter. She told the story of a group of volunteers that gutted the house. Upon finishing the owner said thanks and that he and his wife had planned to commit suicide that night because of the hopelessness but through their help, the volunteers had saved the lives of the couple. Oh yeah, it turned out that the volunteers had gutted the “wrong” house.

What lesson is common?? I see three things that are in all three lectures:

1. Helping others helps you.

2. Small things count (in the language of finance “Life is not linear”)

3. We are all in this together. Let’s work together.

Which really is a good way to sum up the work of BonaResponds. In fact, it may be the best way to live life: Treat others as you would like them to treat you. That is what we do. Won’t you join us? Won’t you help us?

Remember: October 22nd and October 29th. Email BonaResponds for more informatuion. Headquarters at the Lancaster Maintenance Garage near Broadway and Central in downtown Lancaster. Come and bring others. We'll find the work for you.

The longest journey begins with a small step

Much work still needs to be done in Buffalo. So if you want to relive the "tree days" of the Gulf come on out and help! Check out BonaResponds.org for more information or more specificalally our blog BonaResponds.blogspot.com.

From Dr. Bob

From Dr. Bob:

"Reading the editorial comment from the NY Times (see link below), brought to mind once again a question that has stayed with me -only partially answered- since I first went down to volunteer in Mississippi: Why on earth would I want to go back?
Biloxi and environs is not Iraq, but it very much resembled a 'war zone' after Katrina blew its way through last year; and the damage is still not all repaired. As volunteers in such a place, on American soil, we are soldiers, with less than totally adequate (or deserved) support from our government. When we went with the idea that we were going in order "to serve", we were doing our "duty", no less admirable than that of a military soldier, but with far less risk to our lives.
How can I dare to compare my 'service' with that of an army sergeant, ordered to carry his fighting buddies in body bags ? I don't measure up to that level of commitment . However, it does tell me something about why I have kept going back, month after month, for over a year. It tells me something about why I will be going back for another week, tomorrow..
Today, before reading the editorial referenced below, I talked on the phone with my local contacts and friends in Mississippi. Some are satisfied with the recovery they have made so far (With little help from me other than moral support). Others are still waiting, waiting, and waiting, for a variety of promised funds or helpers to arrive , maybe. There is still a lot of serving that could be done. I myself, am at another crossroads, and conflicted about whether or not I will make this next trip my last. The reminder that we all have a responsibility to serve our world community, our country, our neighbors, and, of course , our families, came to me out of my reading of this editorial. Once again, that crossroads, approached with mixed and conflicting allegiances several times in these past 13 months, where to put in my time?
Those phone conversations with friends in Mississippi all say - "come on down, we have a lot to talk about, and we always appreciate and look forward to your visits, and your support, and we love ya !" How does a "serving" man refuse an invitation like that. However, it is not, or should not be, about feeding my personal ego, having a 'great' experience, or an 'adventure'. Serving has those rewards, but they come to us as gifts, by the grace of the persons for whom we give our time and our compassion. It is no revelation to say, "I am no saint", and none of us can continue to 'serve' without serious burn-out, or battle fatigue, unless the things we do have value and meaning to both the served, and the servant.
The only way I can approach this same crossroads (To go back or not to go back, that is the question) is to be there, talk, work, look around, smell the air, feel the direction of the prevailing winds, tally up the cost, and understand whether I am up to the challenge or not.
I will keep y'all posted on this one, by telling the stories, after I am down on the Gulf Coast for a few days.
Until then, I'd be interested in hearing your view of exactly where in this world you had been fighting a 'war', and to what end you are "making the sacrifice of the few" .....and .....I welcome your critique of the 'battle for recovery' on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Subject: NYTimes.com: Sacrifice of the Few

The New York Times E-mail This

Message from sender:
What thoughts come to you as you read this 'point of view' coming- in my opinion-from a thoughtful person with a very intimate encounter with the war in Iraq ? Bob

OPINION | October 12, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist: Sacrifice of the Few
While most Americans are free to go about their daily business, unaffected by the wars in any way, scores of thousands of troops have been sent off on repeat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan"

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Washington Square News - Journalists, one an alum, speak on covering Katrina

Washington Square News - Journalists, one an alum, speak on covering Katrina:
"When Katrina swept over Mississippi and Louisiana last August, there was no electricity, clean water or common amenities, but the newspaper never stopped publishing its print edition throughout the aftermath.

Last April, the 121-year-old paper was awarded the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service for its “valorous and comprehensive coverage of Katrina.”

“The paper was a tangible representation that at some level, the center of civilization had held,” Tiner said.

Tiner and Norman were two of only five reporters who stayed in Biloxi to cover the storm, and Norman was the first on the ground reporting on the damage in the area."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa - Back on dry land

An often-forgotten consequence of Katrina is the millions of people who were displaced. Of course some have moved back, but others have not. This article from Clinton Iowa tells the story of the Bustillos formerly of Biloxi.

The mother and father, like thousands of others in the region rode out the storm on their roof.

After spending time in Texas, the family is now back together in Iowa with no intention of moving back to Biloxi. The article talks of the slow response of government officials and the difficulty in getting by in the days after the storm.

The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa - Back on dry land:
"To this day, Bustillos has friends in Biloxi who still live with tarps on their roofs or are living in tents.

Bustillos believes the response he and his neighbors got from the Red Cross and FEMA was horrible.

“They knew the storm was going to hit ahead of time — they should have been ready.”

Marcelo and Rachel were stranded 18 days in Mississippi.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Main Street Newspapers

Main Street Newspapers:
"Hefting drywall and hauling out debris left by Hurricane Katrina was hard labor, but seeing how little had been done a year after the storm was like nothing Salemite Mary Catherine O'Neill experienced before.

'It's so crazy that even a year later there has been practically no rebuilding of businesses,' said O'Neill in a telephone interview Wednesday morning from Baton Rouge, La., her latest assignment with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. 'The physical work we did in Bay St. Louis, Miss., was hard but emotionally, it was harder."