AZ Air Guard officer awarded lifetime achievement for volunteerism

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Michael Matkin
  • 161 ARW Public Affairs
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 Lt. Col. Allen Kirksey's commitment to the Phoenix community and dedication to human and civil rights.

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 exemplifies a powerful commitment to improving the quality of life in Phoenix, especially for young people. It was during Goode's service to the city that the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. state holiday was created.

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

Kirksey volunteers more than 400 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.

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," he 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 he says is a two-way street.

"It's a give and take both ways between the kids and me," said Kirksey.

"Colonel Kirksey has displayed outstanding characteristics as a role model," said Col. Kurt Woyak, 161 ARW 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. 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. He 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."

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.

On winning a lifetime achievement award for his service, he had these words of advice:

"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," he said. "And 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."

He said his volunteerism and leadership style can be summed up in a quote:

"You are always somebody's example of how to make it. Don't let them down." - Anonymous