Andrew Varela

Member, Board of Trustees, Lutheran Medical Center

President, Sunset Park Lions Club

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Andrew Varela has been a member of theBoard of Trustees of Lutheran Medical Center since 1978, andpresident of the Lions Club of Sunset Park since 1989. He washonored by Borough President Howard Golden as Sunset Park SpanishMerchant of the Year in 1992.

Varela is the chairman of the Brooklyn Hispanic Boy Scout Councilof Sunset Park; he was involved in the Sunset Park parade, and hasworked with Our Lady of Perpetual Help in giving out turkeys topeople in the community as well as the local women’s shelter. Forthe local Three Kings Day celebration, sponsored by Banco Popular,Varela gives out toys to area children.

PERSONAL: A native of Cidra, Puerto Rico, Varela came to New Yorkin 1954. He served two years in the Army, after which he attendedPace University and Baruch College. He’s been married to his wife,Elizabeth, for 58 years, and they have two grown children, AndrewJr., who works with his father at the travel agency, and Judy. Healso has five grandchildren.

JOB: Varela became a licensed broker in 1955; in 1965 he openedVarela Travel Agency, Inc., at 4701 4th Avenue. After studyingradio and broadcasting, he got involved with insurance throughLeeder & Leeder, Inc., after which he took over the business.Varela also owns several businesses in the Sunset Park area.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Varela loves his neighborhood in Sunset Park;the biggest challenge, he said, would be trying to erect anaffordable apartment complex that will house 31 apartments, stores,and a medical center. The project is in its early stages, but heexpects it to be completed within the next few years ifpossible.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Working with the Niños Lisiados de Puerto Rico -helping the handicapped, we really saw a lot of joy in them; thatwas a big part of my life. Niños Lisiados de Puerto Rico had achapter in Brooklyn from 1986 to 1988; although no longer in theborough, they still continue their work in Puerto Rico. Theirpurpose is to help those handicapped and people with autism inleading an extraordinary life.

INSPIRATION: I was poor, when you’re poor you think of many waysto help people, Varela said of his community work. As Varelacontinues to try and improve the condition of his neighborhood,he’d like the support of local leaders as well as elected officialsto help him in his quest.

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