Juanita Kirkland spends much of her life recognizing the achievements of others. Now she is in the award spotlight.
Kirkland, co-founder of the William Penn Senior High School Sports Hall of Fame, has been chosen to receive the Four Chaplains Legion of Honor Membership award.
Kirkland, 61, of York City, will be recognized during the 20th Annual Four Chaplains Prayer Breakfast at 7 a.m. Wednesday at the Yorktowne Hotel, 48 E. Market St. in York City.
"This means so much because of what the award stands for," Kirkland said. "I feel like I've been chosen to accept the award on the behalf of everybody I've ever worked with and worked for. This is truly a blessing. It's overwhelming to me."
Through William Penn's Hall of Fame, Kirkland has helped recognize the achievements of more than 200 former athletes from seven sports.
Other accomplishments: She also is an advocate for educational rights for children with disabilities.
She started various programs focused on teenagers, school discipline and young ladies. When Kirkland was the city school district's parent and community support liaison, she helped start the district's annual Education First parade and rally.
Kirkland is co-founder of the Block and Tackle Express program that helps students develop in areas of character, leadership and responsibility. For the past 10 years, the program has provided after-school tutoring, college tours, educational/motivational workshops and college scholarships for York City School District students.
Under her leadership, about $200,000 has been raised to support BT Express's efforts.
Kirkland is vice president of Kirkland Consulting Inc., which she runs with her husband, Kerry Kirkland Sr. The Kirklands - who have five children - also founded Tanzania Seafood and Jazz Inc. at 29 E. Princess St. in the city. She is the restaurant's chief financial officer.
"She seems like a dynamite person," said Allan Dameshek, a prayer breakfast committee member. "She seems like such a positive, community-minded individual, a successful business woman. We're just thrilled that she's been selected for the honor this year."
The background: The Legion of Honor membership recognizes those who show the spirit of self-sacrifice, volunteerism and brotherhood, all in the spirit of the four chaplains who died during World War II.
They were aboard the troop ship Dorchester when it was torpedoed Feb. 3, 1943, by a German submarine and sank off the coast of Greenland. The chaplains - who gave their life jackets to other servicemen trying to escape the sinking ship - linked arms and prayed together as the vessel sank.
One of the chaplains was Rabbi Alexander Goode, who resigned his post at local Temple Beth Israel to serve as a military chaplain. Goode Elementary School in York City is named for him.
The chaplains who died with him are the Rev. Johnny Washington, a Catholic priest, and two Protestant ministers, the Rev. George L. Fox and the Rev. Clark V. Poling.
Prayer breakfast: The 20th annual Four Chaplains Prayer Breakfast is at 7 a.m. Wednesday at the Yorktowne Hotel, 48 E. Market St. in York City.
The event's main speaker is Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Donald L. Rutherford, a Kinderhook, N.Y., native and a Roman Catholic priest. He is the U.S. Chief of Chaplains. He has served at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and in Iraq and Germany. Rutherford is the highest ranking military official to ever speak at the prayer breakfast, according to Allan Dameshek, an event committee member.
Other breakfast participants are the Alexander D. Goode Elementary School Select Chorus, Carmen Bryant and the Dallastown Area High School Marine Corps JROTC.
Proceeds from the breakfast go toward York City Dollars for Scholars designated for William Penn Senior High School graduates who attended Goode school.
This year, a $1,500 scholarship will go to Raina Dickison, a William Penn senior who will graduate from the York County School of Technology. She plans to study creative writing at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Dameshek said.
Several tickets, costing $15 per person, remain. For purchasing information, call Christ Lutheran Church at 854-5589.
-Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at 505-5438 or firstname.lastname@example.org.