By Hiro Chang, Presidio of Monterey Public AffairsMarch 25, 2010
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - For Co. B 229th Military Intelligence BattalionAca,!a,,cs Sgt. Alicia Allen, winning the local Jefferson Award for her volunteering efforts and her leadership skills became the biggest shock and possibly the greatest honor of her life.
The Iraq War veteran has led Soldiers and lived an accomplished Army career, but being an inspiration to a Soldier, though a byproduct of her service, became her biggest surprise.
Aca,!A"He just approached me one morning after formation,Aca,!A? Allen said, referring to the Soldier who nominated her for recognition of her volunteer efforts.
Allen, a student at the Defense Language School Foreign Language Center, said that while it wasnAca,!a,,ct uncommon for Soldiers to ask her for advice, that day was not one of those times. Aca,!A"He asked me for permission to put me in for the Jefferson Award, and I was really touched.Aca,!A?
For the Soldier, Spc. Jordan L. Booker, who also volunteered during his time stationed here, nominating Allen started with a surprise of his own.
Aca,!A"I had seen her packing recyclables from the company on a Saturday morning,Aca,!A? Booker said, explaining that he decided to help her for the rest of the morning and learned that she had been doing the recycling project for a while.
Booker said during his time with Co. B, he started to learn of the various other volunteer works she was participating in the area.
Then, Booker heard an advertisement on the radio for the Jefferson award, he said. Aca,!A"I thought to myself that Sergeant Allen deserves recognition for the things she was doing, and she was far too humble to nominate herself. So, I put in an application.Aca,!A?
The Jefferson Award is a prestigious national recognition system honoring community and public service in America. The Jefferson Awards are presented on two levels: national and local. They began in 1972 to create a Aca,!A"Nobel PrizeAca,!A? for public service. Today, their primary purpose is to serve as a Aca,!A"Call to Action for VolunteersAca,!A? in local communities.
To finalize the process, Booker had to ask Allen questions about her volunteer activities. Aca,!A"When she gave me the information, it really shocked me,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"Where did she find the time to do all this' She is a full-time Soldier, and (was a) student.Aca,!A?
But, in line with Booker assessment of AllenAca,!a,,cs humbleness, Allen simply answered Bookers query, Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm up early everyday for physical training, so waking up at 7 a.m. on the weekend is like sleeping in for me.Aca,!A?
So, for Allen, getting up and out of the house became commonplace because, Aca,!A"It was better than staying cooped up.Aca,!A?
Additionally, Allen said her volunteer work helped her learn her language.
Aca,!A"I used my volunteer work as a jumping board for learning vocabulary,Aca,!A? Allen, who recently graduated from her French course, said. Aca,!A"Everything I did, I could describe and put into a real story with my vocabulary. It was actually helping me more than traditional study Aca,!A| to get out of the house and give (my) mind a break.Aca,!A?
Allen said that her volunteer work was not generally glamorous, but mostly labor intensive activities such as setting up chairs and table, something Aca,!A"that you need a ton of bodies for, so I thought I could help.Aca,!A?
She also said that because of lack of sensational touchstones in her volunteer work, she didnAca,!a,,ct think much more on the subject of the award. That is, until she won.
Aca,!A"I felt the award was for really great things,Aca,!A? Allen said. Aca,!A"I didnAca,!a,,ct think I would get it.Aca,!A?
But when she received the call from the TV station KSBW and was told she was one of the six who won, Aca,!A"I was shocked. I mean, itAca,!a,,cs a huge award,Aca,!A? she said.
Allen said she immediately sent a text message to her father and was floored by his response. Aca,!A"My dad is like 75, and he sent back Aca,!EoeOMG!Aca,!a,,cAca,!A" she said laughing. Aca,!A"I was shocked that he was so savvy a Aca,!Eoetexter.Aca,!a,,cAca,!A?
Allen said that her father was extremely happy and proud and she felt that her mother, who had recently passed away, would have been proud as well.
Aca,!A"After I got the news that I won, I really thought back on my mother, who was a huge public servant (who) worked with the local community, and I really think I got a lot of the spirit of service from her,Aca,!A? said Allen, who will receive her local award March 29.
For Allen, the win was a great honor, she said, but it was the volunteering that has been the most rewarding.
Aca,!A"I (volunteered) for the Alzheimer Walk and was preparing lunch with some service members,Aca,!A? Allen began. She then rallied some Soldiers Aca,!A"and we ran, knowing we could catch up, and just started cheering them on as they walked. We were able to run to the finish and back in time to serve lunch. It was motivating.Aca,!A?
Booker, who recently moved to his next duty station and will not be around to see Allen get her award, said he was happy to hear the news that Allen won.
Aca,!A"I was thrilled when I had found out that she had won,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"I felt like I had done something good too. I had helped her get the recognition that she deserved for helping so many others.Aca,!A?
Aca,!A"I really got so much back from volunteering,Aca,!A? Allen said. Aca,!A"I just find the joy in everything.Aca,!A?