BonaResponds is a service-based organization in the United States.
Formed in late 2005 in response to the devastation on the Gulf Coast caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the organization is closely tied to Saint Bonaventure University in Allegany, New York. Its members consist of current students, faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the Bonaventure and Western NY community. BonaRespond's mission is to "make the difference" by volunteering to help those in need or those who have been affected by a natural disaster.
Gulf Coast relief efforts
BonaResponds sent its first small contingent of students and faculty in October 2005. A second group returned over the 2005 - 2006 Christmas break. After that trip, planning for a much larger trip over the upcoming spring break began in earnest.
In March 2006, BonaResponds sponsored a service trip to the Gulf Coast, consisting of almost 300 participants to five different sites along the Gulf Coast. Both in absolute terms (almost 300 volunteers) and as a percentage of school enrollment (about 2300 students), this was one of the largest collegiate service groups helping in the Gulf.
Coverage of this effort includes coverage on PBS's Newshour, on WBFO (Buffalo NPR affiliate), all TV channels in the Buffalo-Rochester area and in many newspapers both in the Northeast and also around Bay St. Louis, Missouri.
Recognition of these efforts include the Francis Medal from the Holy Name Province and President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
In January 2007, a group of 26 St. Bonaventure students, faculty, and community members returned to Pass Christian, Missouri. The group worked with Randy's Rangers. Most of their efforts were concentrated on building a camp that will house future volunteers, but several person-hours were dedicated to directly helping some local residents in their reconstruction efforts.
In March 2007, BonaResponds sent approximately 60 volunteers to the Gulf Coast, specifically Pass Christian, MS and Bay St. Louis, MS. The plan for this trip quickly changed, as 48 of the volunteers were diverted to Enterprise, Alabama to assist after a recent tornado. After arriving in Mississippi, the 60 volunteers were spread across three different sites: Randy's Rangers and Bible Fellowship in Pass Christian, and the St. Rose Outreach and Recovery Center (SOAR) in Bay St. Louis. Most of Bonaresponds efforts during this trip involved rebuilding - projects this time included roofing, drywalling, and general contracting as well as some debris cleanup.
For photographs of this effort see Mississippi
The experience of volunteering in the Gulf Coast had a profound effect on the participants. In an effort to nurture the desire to serve, BonaResponds made an active decision to aid in local community service projects in between the large-scale disaster relief projects.
In late August 2006 through October 2006, BonaResponds hosted several local service days. Highlights from these days included:
- Refurbishing a high school.
- Painting at a local hospital.
- Working at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
- Starting a bike trail.
These local service days have greatly impacted the community.
BonaResponds in Buffalo
On October 13, 2006, a record breaking snow storm hit Buffalo and the surrounding areas. BonaResponds was there, leading the way in the storm clean-up. Over 100 participants traveled to Buffalo to clear down trees and well as remove other hazards caused by the storm. This effort was centered in Lancaster and West Seneca. In the first five weeks of this effort, the group had cleared 86 homes and much of Martin Luther King Park in E. Buffalo.
BonaResponds in Enterprise, Alabama
An EF3 tornado devastated the Southeastern Alabama town of Enterprise on Thursday, 1 March 2007, merely 27 hours before their scheduled departure from Olean, New York. BonaResponds was the first volunteer group on the scene, arriving roughly 48 hours after the storm. The entire group of 48 volunteers stayed in Enterprise for 2 days, and a group of six stayed for an additional 2 days. After the stop in Alabama, BonaResponds traveled to its original destination of Mississippi to continue rebuilding the region.
BonaResponds in Bucyrus, Ohio
In August 2007, north-central Ohio was subject to severe flooding, prompting the declaration of 9 counties as federal disaster areas. Over a 4-day Fall break in October 2007, BonaResponds was one of the few groups to respond to this under-reported disaster.
BonaResponds in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
In May 2011, tornadoes struck Alabama, including a category f-5 that tore through Tuscaloosa. Bonaresponds was on the scene once finals and graduation were over. Overall the group was on scene for 2 weeks and mostly spent their time clearing debris and provided emotional support for all those in the area. There were as many as 27 responders present at any given time.
Bonaresponds in Springfield, Mass
Shortly after BonaResponds was volunteering in Alabama a tornado hit in Springfield, Mass, the first trip was only a weekend in June 2011 where the focus was cleaning up trees and other debris. Shortly after the first trip a 5 day trip was brought additional relief to the area. This trip brought significant media attention to BonaResponds when several different media outlets came to sites that were affected and interviewed volunteers and those affected by the tornado.
BonaResponds planned another trip to the Gulf Coast in January and February/March 2008, and will continue to lend aid in the local community and elsewhere wherever it is needed.
To maintain continuity, BonaResponds is continually recruiting new volunteers and leaders as many of the original members graduate from St. Bonaventure.
- Dieffenderfer, Katelyn "SBU's BonaResponds returns to devastated Gulf Coast", "The BonaVenture", February 2, 2007, retrieved February 2, 2007.
- Eberth, John T. “BonaResponds tackles local projects before heading back to the Gulf”, “The Times Herald”, August 31, 2006, retrieved November 30, 2006.
- Saint Bonaventure University. “BonaResponds returns to Buffalo to assist in clean up”, “St. Bonaventure University”, October 24, 2006, retrieved November 30, 2006.
- Littledale, Chrissy, "N.Y. students help clean storm debris" "Montgomery Advertiser," retrieved 17 March 2007.
- Mahar, James.
“BonaRespond’s Original Homepage”, “FinanceProfessor.com”, October 20, 2005, retrieved November 30, 2006.
- Holy Name Province Friars.
“Holy Name Province Newsletter”, “www.hnp.org”, March 22, 2006, retrieved November 30, 2006.
- Meagan Bacus.
- Main website
- BonaResponds in the Olean Times Herald
- A commentary with videos of an October 2007 trip to work with Randy's Rangers