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Tallahassee's Lowery Named USTA Florida Volunteer of the Month

September 3, 2014 08:31 AM
Jerrell_Lowery_1290737Florida A&M alumnus Jerrell Lowery has spent the last five years connecting his tennis foundation and the university's varsity players in assisting at-risk inner-city youth in Tallahassee.

The executive director of the Venom Foundation (named as a take-off of the Florida A&M "Rattlers" mascot) for the past five years, Lowery turned lemons into lemonade when a proposed high school tennis team for FAMU's D.R.S. (Developmental Research School, a "laboratory school" for teaching and learning) fell through roughly five years ago.

"We started Venom as a fundraising booster club for FAMU's D.R.S., but it never materialized," he said. "There was a local tennis club, no longer in operation, that I retained membership with that had started to teach 10 and Under Tennis, but stopped. We then decided to turn Venom into a 501(c)(3) foundation, to serve the under-privileged kids with nutrition and fitness education, using tennis as our medium."

Like other successful after-school tennis programs, it stresses homework assistance through tutoring, mentoring and the use of computer labs; nutrition education to promote healthy lifestyles and combat obesity; life skills, and tennis instruction and team play.

Unlike other after-school programs, the Venom Foundation incorporates FAMU's men's and women's players as volunteers and role models for kids in the program.

"Since its beginning we have set up teaching programs that are active three days a week," said Lowery of the program days on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. "We are located on the campus of FAMU so that the men's and women's tennis teams don't have to travel far to volunteer with teaching the kids, students, and adults. And by doing so they can earn a scholarship, or the opportunity to become a certified tennis instructor."

The foundations supports itself with fundraisers and events that also benefit charities. Its big annual fundraising event is the Maggie Coffey Annual Memorial Tournament in Tallahassee, and during the month of October (Oct. 21 this year) a "Pink Out Day" is hosted at the FAMU tennis courts to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month and raise funds.

Lowery, in addition to overseeing the Venom Foundation, is also a board member for the Tallahassee Police Athletic League and the Rainbow Tennis League, and was recently certified by the PTR to teach 11-17 year olds.

"As our program offers sessions for all ages, I never know which of the participants I will be instructing, so I wanted to have the proper structure for each," he says.

An avid tennis player for 15 years, recently he said he "finally" reached the NTRP rating of 4.0. Besides his own numerous achievements, he says he likes to volunteer in tennis as it "helps him appreciate the achievements of others."

USTA Florida congratulates Jerrell Lowery as the USTA Florida September 2014 Volunteer of the Month for giving back to the community and at-risk children in the Tallahassee area.

For more info about the Venom Foundation go to http://venomfoundationinc.org.

ABOUT JERRELL

Birthplace:
West Palm Beach, Fla.
Family: wife Janice; daughters Monique, Gayla and Lacey
Favorite Movie: Coming to America
Favorite Food: Gumbo
Favorite Travel: Caribbean Islands
Favorite Shot: Serve

My earliest tennis memory was..."when I was a kid at Roosevelt Park and all racquets were made of wood and the balls were white."

If I could play tennis with three people, they would be..."Richard Williams, Nick Bollettieri and Zina Garrison."

When I am not playing tennis I am..."On the computer taking care of the organization's scheduled business, gardening, or fishing."

My best tennis memory is..."Playing at my first American Tennis Association national tournament."


 
 

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