McLean Chamber honors first-responders, veterans

Rekha Patil (second from right) of the McLean Volunteer Fire Department receives the Operational Volunteer of the Year award Dec. 4, 2018, at the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce's Honors Luncheon, held at Vinson Hall Retirement Community. Also pictured (from left) are the fire department's chief, Lt. John Hootman; chamber president Paul Kohlenberger; Del. Marcus Simon; and fire department president Kay Hartgrove. (Photo by Brian Trompeter)

The Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 4 honored local police officers and firefighters and paid tribute to the service of military veterans at the organization’s first-ever Honors Luncheon, held at Vinson Hall Retirement Community.

The chamber previously honored first responders at its annual fall “Suits & Sneakers” event, but this year decided to hold a separate ceremony for those workers and veterans.

Chamber leaders honored two officers from the Fairfax County Police Department’s McLean District Station.

Officer Ingrid Palencia-Membreno, who was named Police Officer of the Year, was honored for her thorough reports and investigations, solid rapport with and eager assistance to colleagues, and her work as a Spanish translator with the department’s Language Support Services Unit, said Capt. Alan Hanson, the station’s commander.

Paulo Mourao, named Auxiliary Police Officer of the Year, began working at the station in June 2011 and has logged more than 2,500 volunteer hours of service, Hanson said. Mourao has updated the station’s records regarding permission for officers to patrol in some private-property locations, focused on citing motorists who illegally park in handicapped spaces and provided free financial-planning assistance for officers and auxiliaries alike, Hanson said.

Other honorees at the event were:

• Rekha Patil, named the McLean Volunteer Fire Department’s Operational Volunteer of the Year.

• Mike Paris, honored as the McLean Volunteer Fire Department’s Administrative Volunteer of the Year.

The chamber also bestowed awards on these top performers with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department:

• Firefighter Marcus Woods of Station 1 in McLean.

• Technician Felix Clement of Station 13 in Dunn Loring.

• Technician Brian Hallahan of Station 29 in Tysons.

• Technician Andrew Rose of Station 42 (Wolf Trap).

Chamber leaders also gave a Veteran-Owned Business of the Year Award to Ideamatics, which was accepted by company president David Danner, and bestowed a Lifetime Business Achievement Award on longtime Northern Virginia developer John “Til” Hazel.

The guest speaker, retired U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Donald Loren, compared veterans and first responders to the Minutemen who fought in the Revolutionary War and said Americans “have always responded to the call” for service.

The sense of responsibility and interconnectedness felt by first responders and veterans “helps us face the dangers of everyday life and a threatening world,” Loren said.

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