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’ve moved the Annual Awards online and will still be giving out the awards, and thanking our sponsors this year!

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

The Awards will be broadcast from the InterAct Story Theatre studio, and can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home!
You can watch and join in from your computer, tablet or phone via Zoom.

Join us for this FREE AwardsCast 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. We ask the community to help us give thanks to those receiving these well-deserved annual awards.

The Chamber will honor 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.

~ The Awards ~

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

(to come)

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

(to come)

The WUDAC Outstanding Business Leader Award

(to come)

The WUDAC Best Property Improvement Award

(to come)

The 4th District Police Public Safety Officer of the Year

Police Officer III Tyler Wellen

The Wheaton Rescue Squad Public Safety Officer of the Year

Firefighter Ryan Graves

The Kensington Volunteer Fire Dept Public Safety Officer of the Year

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 will be no High School Student or Teacher Awards this year)

Download 2020 Annual Awards Event flyer

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

RSVP and get the Zoom link to join event
New to Zoom? You will need to download Zoom at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the event. For instructions – visit Zoom website with videos explaining how to set up.
Become an Annual Awards Sponsor


Last year’s 35th Annual Community Awards Banquet was on June 29, 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
View the Bios of the 2019 Award Winners

The 2019 Wheaton & Kensington Chamber of Commerce Tribute Award

Los Chorros Restaurant

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

Vincent Pistolessi

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

Wheaton Hills Civic Association

The Wheaton Urban District Advisory Committee Business Leader of the Year

Filippo Leo

The WUDAC Best Property Improvement of the Year

All Eco Design Center

The 4th Dist. Police Public Safety Award

Midnight Shift 8, Sgt. Keith Duggan and Sgt. Philip F. Meyer, Jr., Leaders

The Wheaton Vol. Rescue Squad Public Safety Officer of the Year Award

Firefighter/Paramedic Marcus Hendricks

The Kensington Vol. Fire Dept. Public Safety Award

Captain Truc Nguyen

Einstein HS Teacher of the Year Award

Mr. Steven Beale

Einstein HS ESOL Student of the Year Award

Oscar Ramos Cabrera

Einstein HS Student Community Service of the Year

Austin Patterson

Kennedy HS Teacher of the Year Award

Ms. Neha Singhal

Kennedy HS ESOL Student of the Year Award

Victoria DeAraujo

Kennedy HS Student Community Service of the Year

Tatiana Quintanilla-Ramirez

Wheaton HS Teacher of the Year Award

Ms. Tonia Chicas

Wheaton HS ESOL Student of the Year Award

Ratcha Ruangkajohn

Wheaton HS Student Community Service of the Year

Kamilah Shaheed

The Chamber Member of the Year

L. Jeannette Feldner, Letterforms Typography & Graphic Design

The Chamber Business of the Year Award

Carlos Auto Service

The Chamber Lifetime Honor Award

Timothy Wiens

The Chamber President’s Award

Laura-Leigh Palmer

The Chamber Appreciation Award

James Onder

Read the bios of the 2019 winners

Many thanks to the 2019 Community Awards Sponsors

Community Champions

Fitzgerald Auto Mall-Wheaton; Greenhill Capital Corporation; IHOP Wheaton

Community Heroes

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

Community Partners

Appliance Distributors Unlimited; AQUAS, Inc.; Costco Wholesale; Ewing, Hines & Associates; Glenmont MetroCenter; Jubilee Association of MD, Inc.; Kensington House Apartments; Montgomery Housing Partnership; One Montgomery Green

Community Supporters

Allstate/Fairweather Insurance; American Legion Wheaton Post 268; Kensington Jewelers & Precious Metals; Letterforms Typography & Graphic Design; Montgomery College; Onder Communications; SERVPRO of Wheaton/Kensington; Wheaton Shopping Center

Community Advocates

Academy of Professional Barber/Stylists; Cam Ranh Bay Pho & Grill; Kensington Row Bookshop; Lafayette Federal Credit Union; Little Caesar’s Wheaton; Logan’s Automotive; Unplugged Restaurant & Sports Bar; Wheaton Studio of Dance

RSVP and buy tickets
Become an Annual Awards Sponsor

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