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Annual Olender Foundation Awards Held in D.C.

12/2/2013, noon
From left: Charles Allen, representing his father, Eugene “The Butler” Allen, is presented with the “Unsung Hero” award by Jack Olender, co-founder of the Olender Foundation, BET co-founder Sheila Johnson and Wil Haygood, the journalist who first wrote about Allen at the 28th annual Olender Foundation Awards ceremony in D.C. on Dec. 1. Marshall Cohen

The 28th annual Olender Foundation Awards were held in the Terrace Theater of the Kennedy Center on Monday, Dec. 1, as the foundation honored an "Unsung Hero," a "Generous Heart" and a "Peacemaker."

The Unsung Hero Award was presented to Eugene Charles Allen, the "Real Life Butler." His son, Charles, a war hero who had a distinguished federal career, accepted on his behalf.

It was presented by Wil Haygood, who first wrote in The Washington Post about the butler and maitre’d who served eight Presidents of the United States, and by Sheila Johnson, who headed the financial group that produced and financed the movie "Lee Daniels’ 'The Butler.’"

Johnson is co-founder of BET and owner of the Salamander Resort and Hotels. Haygood’s New York Times best seller "The Butler: A Witness to History" was in the attendees’ gift bags.

At Charles' request, the Olender Foundation grant in honor of the Allens was made to two programs at Cardozo High School, which Charles Allen attended in the early 1960s. When the award was presented, he was accompanied onstage by Cardozo principal Tanya Roane, Transtem Academy director Shirley McCall, and Shelly Karriem, Director of Academy of Construction and Design at Cardozo Education Campus.

The Peacemaker Award was presented to Robert Sargent Shriver, the late brother-in-law of President Kennedy and founder of the Peace Corps. His son, Mark, who wrote the bestselling book "A Good Man" about his father, accepted the award on behalf of his father

The award was presented by Colman McCarthy, a close friend and a mentor to Mark Shriver's who received the same award in 1995. McCarthy was also Sargent Shriver’s speechwriter.

The Generous Heart award went to Beverly Perry, retired vice president of Pepco and the chairman of the board of the African American Civil War Memorial, to which the grant in her honor was bestowed.

She was accompanied on stage by Dr. Frank Smith, founder of the Memorial and former D.C. Council member. The presentation was made to Perry by Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina and Kim Keenan, general counsel of the NAACP.

Twelve law students in D.C. also received the Earl H. Davis Award and scholarships for their success in the study of law and their dedication to public interest law.

A past awardee recognized during the program was Washington Informer publisher Denise Rolark Barnes, who won the Generous Heart award last year and whose father, the late Dr. Calvin Rolark, was the first recipient of the Generous Heart award 28 years ago. Last year's Peacemaker honoree, D.C. Hall of Fame founder Dr. Janette Houston Harris, was also recognized.

Other past honorees were on hand, including Joan Claybrook (Advocate for Justice, 2003), Rev. Reginald Green (Advocate for Justice 2010), Joseph Hairston (America’s Role Model 2007), Ambassador George Haley (Peacemaker 2001), Warren Juggins (Unsung Hero 2006), Martin Mendelsohn, (Advocate for Justice 2007).

The law firm Jack H. Olender & Associates sponsored the event.

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