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Olender Foundation Honors Washington Informer Publisher

12/15/2011, 12:34 p.m.

Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes is the 2012 recipient of the Olender Foundation's Generous Heart Award.

Jack H. Olender, an institution in the city's legal circles, presented her with the award at a ceremony and dinner held on Dec. 6 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center Amphitheater in Northwest.

"I presented Calvin Rolark with the Generous Heart Award for all the work he was doing, the United Black Fund, Spelling Bee, Civil Rights and work in the community," said Olender during a recent interview. "His daughter took over and followed right in his footsteps. She franchised the Spelling Bee and is the first Black-owned paper to do so. She's made it even bigger, she supports the United Black Fund - it was her time. She was the ideal person to receive the award."

The Generous Heart Award is just the latest community recognition the publisher has received in the past two months. She has been honored by the Past Potentates Council of Mecca's Temple No. 10; by the Summit Health Institute for Research and Education (SHIRE); and by the D.C. Laymen of the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC).

Ms. Rolark Barnes said she was deeply honored by all of the awards, but added that Olender's recognition struck a chord because of its connection to her father.

"Attorney Olender was an institution himself in Washington. I think he is very careful about the individuals he selects for these awards," she said. "He doesn't just come up with folks who are popular. It's people who are popular, but also everyday people. It's just very special to be considered, to be thought about, and to be among the caliber of people he has honored over the years."

"He is a man who has made significant contributions not only in the community, but professionally ... I think it's just an honor and a privilege and we really owe him - those of us who have been recipients of this award - for the way he gives back and acknowledges what makes a great city."

Ms. Rolark Barnes, who is also president of Washington Informer Charities, said the award brings back some good memories of her father and the relationship he and Olender shared.

"I remember my father talking about 'Jack'-- they were really good friends," she said. "My dad had a lot of friends, but Jack Olender was truly a heart-felt friend. He was not only someone who was supportive of (my father), but (he was) someone he supported as well. To have my father's theme song "Ain't No Stopping Us Now," played to introduce the award, to have Jacquie Gales Webb, who cut her teeth in the radio broadcast industry across microphones from my dad there, and to have the stories told, made this even more special."

"I know he [Dr. Rolark] was (there that night) because that's why it (was) raining outside. They say when it's raining, the spirits are happy. Every year when we go to Attorney Olender's office to give out those checks to the top four finalists of the Washington Informer Citywide Spelling Bee, I think about my dad. So when he called and said 'I want to give you this award' I thought about my dad. It's very special."