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AZ Air Guard officer awarded lifetime achievement for volunteerism

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by Tech. Sgt. Michael Matkin
161st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

1/13/2014 - PHOENIX – The 161st Air Refueling Wing Chief of Staff will be awarded the Calvin C. Goode Lifetime Achievement Award Friday during the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Living the Dream Awards Breakfast here.

The City of Phoenix Human Relations Commission and Equal Opportunity Department is recognizing Air Force Lt. Col. Allen Kirksey’s commitment to the Phoenix community and dedication to human and civil rights.

“Colonel Kirksey has displayed outstanding characteristics as a role model,” said Air Force Col. Kurt Woyak, 161th Air Refueling Wing vice commander. “He provides direction and motivation. He uses his experiences in the military to increase awareness of the Air National Guard and other military services in his community.

Kirksey volunteers more than 100 hours annually, devoting time to the Roosevelt School District, Phoenix Union High School District and South Phoenix Missionary Baptist Church. He also speaks within the community as a motivational speaker.

“You don’t have to wait 20 to 30 years to see a kid become successful, to turn over a new leaf or live out their dreams; you can make a change in their life right now,” said Kirksey. “You will never know how many people you’ve impacted, and that in itself is kind of gratifying. You will have visible successes and invisible successes and I think there are a lot more invisible successes.”

The Calvin C. Goode Lifetime Achievement award recognizes an exceptional individual who makes Phoenix a better place through a lifelong dedication to promoting social and economic justice, defending civil rights and enhancing the dignity of all people.

The award is named for former Phoenix City Councilman Calvin C. Goode, who worked to ensure these rights for all residents during his 22-year tenure with the council. Guided by a deeply-held belief in equality for all people, his life exemplified a powerful commitment to improving the quality of life in Phoenix, especially for young people.

Goode’s drive to improve people’s quality of life, especially the youth, is also a drive Kirksey said he shares.

“He continually challenges himself to increase community awareness, and improve mentoring programs by establishing strong ties and bonds with community leaders, thus resulting in enduring relationships,” said Woyak. “Kirksey clearly demonstrates exemplary leadership by making significant contributions to the advancement of a diverse work force and the promotion, retention and recruitment in areas of under-representation in the military.”

Winning a lifetime achievement award could be seen by many as a validation of the time they have spent volunteering; however, Kirksey isn’t seeking external validation.

“My validation comes each day that I go and contribute, because I get immediate gratification from giving my time,” Kirksey said. “Volunteering makes me feel that I get to be at the pointy end of the spear, or rather, where the rubber meets the road.”

He said it’s not about getting an award or a talking point, it’s the act of giving, which is a two-way street.

“It’s a give and take both ways between the kids and me,” said Kirksey.

Kirksey said working towards diversity and helping those who are underprivileged is the leadership style he attempts to embody. He calls it servant leadership, where you choose to serve first and then aspire to lead.


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