“Latin American Youth Center is helping youth who have no other place to go. Helping youth is the best way to spend time. It is an investment in their lifetime. There’s no greater cause than that,” says Andy Van Etten, a former LAYC Board member. Having raised 3 kids himself, he speaks from experience.
Prior to joining the LAYC board, his community service included volunteering as the youth outreach coordinator for the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC, where he established the GenOUT program; offering free tickets to all their performances to area LGBT youth, their parents, and teachers. Through a mutual friend who knew both Andy and Patricia Arzuaga, LAYC Board member and Senior Counsel with Kaiser Permanente, Andy was recruited to join LAYC’s Board in the fall of 2011. He wanted his Board service to be an opportunity to support the STRIPES program, an after-school program for LGBTQ+ and ally youth, and to demonstrate to our young people it is ok to be gay.
During his board service, Andy chaired the LAYC Gala for eight years, and with the help of staff and many youth volunteers, he transformed the event from an annual silent auction with a few hundred guests to the premiere fundraising and networking event it is today. He says, “My work with Gala was always very satisfying and appreciated by the youth. It gave youth an opportunity to celebrate when they attended. I was so happy to do that. He remembers fondly when an LAYC staff member, Gabriela Martinez, asked him “What kind of superstar would you be? He responded with, “What, I’m not a superstar?” There started his nickname, Mr. Superstar. He continued to be a superstar to LAYC in so many ways, having served on multiple committees and becoming a founding member of LAYC’s Heroes Circle of recurring donors. Andy also served as an LAYC champion at CareFirst encouraging their support of our youth. “CareFirst has always been extremely generous over the years, funding grants around educational and health-related activities” said Andy. And beyond their financial giving, CareFirst has really supported LAYC and has been an active participant in their success.
For his day job, Andy works for CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program Division, which processes medical and dental claims for 5.4 million federal employees around the world. Due to increasing work travel, he had to conclude his Board service in the fall of 2019. However, Andy recruited a fellow colleague from CareFirst, Kimberly Salameh. He does miss LAYC, the board service and his experience.
In his spare time, Andy enjoys traveling with his partner Richard Chong and daughter Sophie. All are certified scuba divers. In fact, Andy has completed 104 scuba dives since 2008 and explored the waters alongside hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, and dolphins in the Galápagos Islands, Hawaii, the Caribbean and South Africa.
If you’d like to learn more about this year’s annual Gala taking place on May 6 at the Washington Hilton, please contact Flordelisa Perez Dolan, Major Gifts Director, at email@example.com or at 202-559-2449.