Born and raised in the Bay Area, Larry Atkins knows what it’s like to face challenges and conquer them. Introduced to tennis at 6 years old, Larry didn’t allow being a minority, or people telling him he “couldn’t” stop him from following his passion. He got more serious about tennis in high school and became the number one player at Oakland High, and after he graduated was ranked first at Alameda College. He was offered a scholarship and St. Augustine College in Florida and headed east where he led the team to many victories and began playing the open circuit. Larry transitioned
into coaching some years ago, becoming head coach and Director of Tennis at Piedmont High. Complete with his finance degree, Larry is an accountant by day and coach by night at the YTA Bear Trax site at Cal. He enjoys his position in its ability to encourage the youth to never base what they can achieve on their circumstances. “It’s all about how you apply yourself,” says Larry. He hopes to one day become a college athletic director.
"Homeless Tennis Courts" at Athol Plaza Park
According to federal guidelines, the city of Oakland had 4071 homeless in 2019. It is probably safe to say this number increased exponentially during COVID-19 in 2020. No wonder these people are desperate for safe places to stay, especially when it gets colder now.
Some of them found the two tennis courts at Athol Plaza Park to be such a safe place. Larry Atkins, tennis professional and President of the Oakland Tennis Council contacted us to inform us that this homeless encampment has grown unchecked to 13 tents during the COVID-19 shutdown. The Oakland City Council is apparently unable to clear the camp because permanent housing is currently not available for the inhabitants.
The situation is subject of this report by the local FOX channel.
But Larry Atkins is not just fighting to get the tennis courts back to the community. He's taking his petition much further considering there are similar homeless problems all over the country.
Larry wrote to us:
I have a Petition for the city of Oakland. It's working great. Your help would be to share the project all over America. The ultimate goal is to benefit youth globally by cleaning up parks with the same blueprint I'm using in Oakland
Oakland's Homeless Tennis Courts sit across from Lake Merritt which is the jewel of the city. The Oakland Tennis Council seeks support and/or partners interested in developing ideas to solve inner-city homelessness.
Our initial goal is 10 thousand virtual signatures. Virtual signatures are just names, and email addresses. The 10K signatures show support for the homeless inhabitants to be helped to better shelter. The end goal is to transform blighted parks into opportunities for youth programs to thrive.
The Homeless encampment at Oakland's Lake Merritt Tennis facility is similar to many of the homeless issues throughout our country. The inhabitants of the encampment are suffering from losses of opportunities in housing, employment, education, and health services.
Since the outbreak of Covid 19, the Homeless Tennis Courts of Oakland have doubled in size. Largely due to the decision
to accommodate the homeless population by providing urinals, and washing stations.
Our solution is simple. Bring together as many Non-Profit organizations who serve the community in regards to housing and health. Recruit the support of city government, corporate interest, small business, and individuals inspired to serve the mission.
The TV interview has received viral responses and can be Googled with the four words "Oakland's Homeless Tennis Courts"
The Oakland Tennis Council is a good group of people dedicated to making a positive difference.
The next plan of action in Oakland is organizing is a day to feed the inhabitants of the encampment, and pass out health kits. We encourage your comments and hope that you would share our mission and sign our petition.
The Oakland Tennis Council would like to thank you all for sharing our journey.
Please reach out with interest or questions. (510)830-7643
We ask that you send your email address as a virtual signature to our inbox or email firstname.lastname@example.org