Beverly Hills – Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry and the Jenesse Center presented San Francisco businesswoman Ruth Garland Dewson with a “Power of One” award at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunday at the center’s Silver Rose Awards Gala.
Mrs. Dewson, the founder and executive director of the Western Addition Foundation for Girls in San Francisco and the owner of the Fillmore Street landmark shop, Mrs. Dewson’s Hats, received the award for her efforts to secure the release of Flozelle Woodmore from prison, long after she had served the time required for killing her abusive boyfriend in self-defense when she was only 18 years old.
Mrs. Dewson brought this case to the attention of prominent California politicians and leaders of the legal, religious and social activist communities, as well as the media. Mrs. Dewson’s championing of the Flozelle Woodmore case ultimately led to Woodmore’s release from prison and allowed her to be reunited with her family.
Mrs. Dewson’s “Power of One” award was presented by California state Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas. The senator was instrumental in working with Mrs. Dewson on the Flozelle Woodmore case.
“Ruth Dewson is a doer, a change maker, a one-woman show and a force of nature,” said the senator.
“I have dedicated my life to helping others,” Mrs. Dewson said to a sold-out ballroom that included Hollywood stars like Berry, Jay Leno, Jennifer Hudson and Wanda Sykes and prominent civic and political leaders such as Gloria Allred, public defenders Michael Judge and Jeff Adachi and Los Angeles City Council member Bernard Parks.
To a standing ovation, Mrs. Dewson concluded, “People said to me, you didn’t know Flozelle; how could you help her? I said to them – I know her and you know her. You see her in the eyes of your children and your grandchildren. And you say to yourself, they ain’t heavy, they’re my brothers.”
The Jenesse Center is a nonprofit that provides a holistic, comprehensive program to nurture victimized families back to a place of mental, financial, physical and emotional wellbeing. The center was founded in 1980 by five African American women who were survivors of domestic violence. Halle Berry chairs the center’s Year of Giving Campaign.
The other awardee on Sunday was civil rights leader Xernona Clayton, who worked with Dr. Martin Luther King and later became the first Black woman in the South to host her own TV show.