Annual Community Awards Banquet

(The COVID-19 public health crisis continues to have a devastating impact on local businesses and families. See Resources, Business Development page. The WK Chamber will avoid the possibility of community transmission, and resume our in-person events as soon as is feasible.)
The pandemic forced us to cancel our original Awards Banquet in April. We moved the Annual Awards online and still gave out the awards, and thanked our sponsors this year!

This year’s 36th Annual Community Awards was a Virtual Event in partnership with InterAct Story Theatre

The Awards were broadcast from the InterAct Story Theatre studio, and were enjoyed from the comfort of home!

You can watch the Annual Awards Presentation video from your computer, tablet or phone on the Chamber’s Facebook page.

This FREE AwardsCast was on
Wednesday, June 24, 2020 from 6:30 – 8:00 pm

The Annual Awards is a hallmark event of the Wheaton & Kensington Chamber. We celebrate the connection and goodwill between citizens, businesses, schools, and public safety workers in the Wheaton & Kensington community. And we ask the community to help us give thanks to those receiving these well-deserved annual awards.

The Chamber honored IHOP Wheaton Restaurant with the Tribute Award. It is one of the most well-recognized restaurants in downtown Wheaton, and is celebrating its 50-year anniversary this year! IHOP Wheaton’s significant community service and contributions help to sustain and strengthen the local community, and it has been a great supporter of the Chamber.

We had special offerings from “Preferred Partner Restaurants” for Wed, June 24.

You could order your food and drink, pick it up or have it delivered, then Zoom home for our Virtual AwardsCast!
– Viewers and Registrants were encouraged to purchase a meal from one of *these partners to get 20% off on their order. All day on June 24 – using the special code “awards”: *IHOP Wheaton, *Los Chorros Restaurant, *Hollywood East Cafe.

~ The 2020 Award Winners ~

View the Bios of the 2020 Award Winners

The 2019 Wheaton & Kensington Chamber of Commerce Tribute Award

IHOP Wheaton

The Mid-County Citizen’s Advisory Board Civic Association Award

Marna Cary

The Mid-County Citizen’s Advisory Board Citizen of the Year Award

1) Adventist Community Services of Greater Washington
2) Greater Silver Spring Civitan Club

The WUDAC Outstanding Business Leader of the Year Award

James Mensah, FAsMarketplace

The WUDAC Best Property Improvement of the Year Award

Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center

The 4th District Police Public Safety Officer of the Year Award

Police Officer III Tyler Wellen

The Wheaton Rescue Squad Public Safety Officer of the Year Award

Firefighter Ryan Graves

The Kensington Volunteer Fire Dept Public Safety Officer of the Year Award

Captain Zamir Hussain

The Chamber Member of the Year Award

Elisenda Sola-Sole, Kensington Row Bookshop

The Chamber Business of the Year Award

Beth A. Johnson Income Tax Services

The Chamber Special Appreciation Award

Luisa Montero-Diaz, Mid-County Regional Services Center

(Regretfully, there were no High School Student or Teacher Awards this year)

Download 2020 Annual Awards Event flyer

This AwardsCast Event was open to Chamber members and non-members at no charge.
Advance Registration Required.

RSVPing would get the Zoom link to join event
For instructions on downloading Zoom – visit the Zoom website which has videos explaining how to set up.
Become an Annual Awards Sponsor

Many thanks to the 2020 Community Awards Sponsors

Community Champions

Fitzgerald Auto Mall-Wheaton; Greenhill Capital Corporation

Community Heroes

Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center; Griswold Home Care, Aspen Hill-Montgomery; Hollywood East Cafe; IHOP Wheaton; Kensington Park Senior Living; Lafayette Federal Credit Union; Los Chorros Restaurant; Washington Property Company; Westfield Wheaton

Community Partners

Appliance Distributors Unlimited; Costco Wholesale; InterAct Story Theatre; Jubilee Association of MD, Inc.; Kensington House Apartments; Montgomery Housing Partnership

Community Supporters

Ewing, Hines & Associates; Manna Food Center; SERVPRO of Wheaton/Kensington; Wheaton Shopping Center

Community Advocates

Letterforms Typography & Graphic Design; Onder Communications

Community Donors

Beth A. Johnson Income Tax Services; Wheaton Studio of Dance
Become an Annual Awards Sponsor


Last year’s 35th Annual Community Awards Banquet was on April 24, 2019 from 6:00 – 9:00 pm at Hollywood East Cafe

The Chamber honored Los Chorros Restaurant last year. This “mom and pop” restaurant with authentic Mexican and Salvadorian taste and at-home feel was celebrating their 30th Anniversary this year! In 1989 Pedro and Reina Lazo opened their own restaurant after 12 years of experience in the Mexican and Salvadorian food industry, and began as a 75-seat, carryout style restaurant.
  –   After a renovation and expansion in 1995, Los Chorros grew to seat 175, with a full bar. The day-to-day operations have since been handed over to their two sons, Omar and Jason Lazo, who maintain the authentic tastes and feel, and they have also expanded their community service.
  –   This tribute was given in recognition of their significant contributions, and quality food and service since 1989 in the Wheaton & Kensington Community.

For over 25 years, the Chamber has recognized the area high school students and also included monetary gifts provided by the various sponsors. The Chamber has been committed to encouraging local businesses to mentor the students destined to become future leaders.


Laura-Leigh Palmer was surprised with The Chamber President’s Award in appreciation for years of outstanding contributions as an advocate for and mentor to fellow business associates and aspiring artists, and tireless devotion to supporting and promoting the cultural enrichment of our community. Constantly volunteering her time, Laura-Leigh has participated in various capacities with the Kensington Day of the Book Festival, the Wheaton Arts Parade, the Cedar Lane Unitarian Church, the Kensington Labor Day Parade, and “Angels for Children” toy drive as an always-helpful Santa’s elf.

For 18 years, Laura-Leigh’s a.s.a.p. graphics has offered print and web design, and lately Google Enhanced StreetView tours, and social media services. She is on the Board and a Past-President of the WK Chamber, a member of Wheaton-Silver Spring Kiwanis Club, an Adjunct Professor at Montgomery College teaching graphics, a Past-President of the Montgomery Art Association, and the author of “Images of America: Wheaton” published by Arcadia Press.
Laura-Leigh Palmer receives Chamber President's Award

The 2019 Award Winners

See photos of the 2019 event by Samuel Corum

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