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Response to March 2000 Hot Topic from Points of Light

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(Susan's Response to POL follows.)

Dear Susan:

On behalf of the United States Steering Committee for the International Year of Volunteers 2001 (IYV 2001), I am writing to respond to your website article,Warning! We're About to Waste an Opportunity and to provide your readers with a current update about plans under development for IYV 2001.

In the United States, the Points of Light Foundation volunteered to serve as the lead organizer for IYV 2001. The Points of Light Foundation invited the Association of Junior Leagues International to serve as the primary partner for leading national-level planning for IYV 2001. IYV 2001 is an important effort to both organizations, so much so that the organizations' top volunteer leaders are serving as the U.S. Steering Committee Co-Chairs: Dr. Norman Brown, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Points of Light Foundation and Ms. Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, President of the Board of Directors of the Association for Junior Leagues International.

Together, both organizations have created a United States Steering Committee which has 19 additional organizational members: Veterans of Foreign Wars; Interfaith Alliance; National Health Council; Corporation for National Service; IAVE, North America; United Nations; USA Weekend; Volunteers of America; National PTA; National Council of Volunteer Centers; National Council for Workplace Volunteerism; United Way of America; Salvation Army; AARP; Independent Sector; National Fraternal Congress; HADASSAH; Association for Volunteer Administration; and The National Assembly. The initial strategy has been to engage organizations with large networks of members or affiliates in the national steering committee. An additional tier of national organizations will be recruited and local organizations will be invited to align themselves with the committee and its work. Staff support and operating expenses for the work of the committee is being provided by both organizations.

Since its first meeting in December,1999, the United States Steering Committee has adopted the following vision:

International Year of Volunteers 2001 is a time to challenge all Americans to:
Recognize our shared traditions of volunteering; and
Commit to volunteering to build stronger communities.

Three subcommittees are developing action plans to support key IYV 2001 strategies:
Awareness - Building awareness of IYV 2001 and volunteering at the national, state, and local levels and within organizations; 
Engagement - Broadening individual and organizational involvement in volunteering; building organizational capacity to engage volunteers; and supporting individual volunteer capacity to serve; and

Resources - Developing resources to support and achieve the goals of IYV 2001.

The United States Committee plans to launch a web-site about IYV 2001 in early April which will offer downloadable information, IYV 2001 logo and involvement materials, on-line registration as an organization or individual planning to engage with IYV 2001 in the U.S; and opportunities to exchange ideas or post plans. At the National Community Service Conference in Orlando, Florida in June, the IYV United States Committee plans to have a major presence and will jointly sponsor a pre-conference meeting with IAVE to share information about IYV 2001. In addition, an IYV 2001 workshop, exhibit, and other informal opportunities will offer specific details of the Steering Committee's emerging plans. Presentations about IYV 2001 in the United States will be shared at other national conferences, including the Association of Junior Leagues International, Association for Volunteer Administration and Businesses for Social Responsibility.

The United States Steering Committee does not see a conflict of interest with Kenn Allen's involvement as World President of IAVE and as Senior Vice President of the Points of Light Foundation. In fact, Kenn Allen's role has been a helpful and complementary one in ensuring that IYV 2001 is proactively supported by both organizations. As you noted, IYV 2001 is a natural "fit" to both IAVE and the Points of Light Foundation. IAVE is a worldwide membership organization of 1,000 individuals and organizations in 90 countries that exists to promote, support and celebrate volunteering as it happens worldwide. As a network organization, IAVE is almost totally dependent on its members throughout the world to undertake its program priorities. With a core operating budget of only $125,000 this year, IAVE has an amazing track record of accomplishment- including hosting the first global event for IYV 2001. The Points of Light Foundation exists to engage more people more effectively in volunteer service to address serious social problems. The Foundation's role, while primarily focused on United States volunteering, supports Kenn Allen's leadership role with IAVE as a natural extension of our mission. Kenn Allen, as the Senior Vice President of Programs at the Points of Light Foundation, is responsible for all program activities, including IYV 2001. 
Kenn's understanding of and advocacy for IYV 2001 is an asset to both the Points of Light Foundation and IAVE.

Creating a national steering committee and developing a framework that encourages national, state, and local engagement in IYV 2001 is an extraordinary undertaking. Convening a diverse group of national organizations, developing an understanding of the purpose and creating a shared vision for IYV in the United States, and developing specific action plans does take time. Once the committee's plans are further detailed, the Points of Light Foundation and the Association of Junior Leagues International will intensify IYV 2001 communications activities. All of us want IYV 2001 to be embraced by organizations, individuals, and communities.

Susan, I hope this addresses the concerns shared in your article. I encourage you to give me a call at (202) 729-8137 if you have questions or need updates about the U.S. Steering Committee's work.

Sincerely,

Pamela Y. Warwick
Vice President, Nonprofit Outreach

Response from Susan:

Dear Noelle--

Thank you for forwarding Pam Warwick's letter to me as an e-mail attachment. As she begins the letter expressing her wish to inform our Web site readers about what is happening with IYV2001 in the U.S., we are going to post the letter in its entirety as a "response" to my Hot Topic.

Please tell Pam that I appreciate her taking the time to explain what is happening and I am pleased to be able to forward this to our site visitors.

However, I also am aware that United Nations Volunteers tried for over a year to get Points of Light to convene a US Committee to meet and that December 1999 was extremely late for, as Pam herself said, such an "extraordinary undertaking." No matter how much work has been done behind the scenes, from the perspective of those of us in the field, we are in the dark. The few mentions of IYV2001 have all been "wait to hear more" sorts of announcements. Given the lack of discussion about IYV2001 (in an inclusive planning way, not as an FYI) at the Las Vegas conference--or any other American volunteerism event in 1999), the lack of postings to any Web site about U.S. plans, and the lack of mention in POLF member publications, I stand by my concern about what can be galvanized as the time grows shorter and shorter.

I understand the defensiveness about Kenn. And I hope your assessment is correct. But as IAVE has been planning its January 2001 conference for over 2 years, it is hard to see why he can spearhead IAVE "positioning" while stonewalling USA involvement. As a member of both organizations, I can only compare what I see from IAVE to what I see from POLF--and IYV2001 is only a blip on the horizon here at home.

FYI, my Hot Topic also elicited a warm and collaborative response from Jayne Silverman, president of Junior Leagues International. She and I have a dinner date in a few weeks because she agrees that many more people need to be informed and involved.

At any rate, my Hot Topics are meant to elicit discussion--and I succeeded! I am one of those folks who values open exchange and is not put off by controversy. We post responses pro and con. I am delighted that Pam's letter will add to the discussion. Thanks again.

Susan

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