BRANDON - The third time turned out to be a charm for Larry Bowman in his quest to become a pharmacist.
"I got kicked out of pharmacy school twice at West Virginia," said Bowman, adding that the first time was for disciplinary reasons and the second time he slept through a final exam. "I really tried my best not to be a pharmacist."
Despite his best efforts, Bowman graduated from Ohio Northern University's pharmacy school in 1969. For the past two decades, he has been applying his skills as a volunteer at the Brandon Outreach Clinic.
Last month, Bowman's volunteer work was recognized by the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative, which named him as one of its Spring 2013 Volunteers for Health Award winners.
"I'm no more important than anyone else who volunteers their time; I wouldn't want to do without any of them," Bowman said. "I am elated, but I didn't win this award for me, I won it for the clinic."
The Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative is a member organization consisting of free clinics, county health departments and other groups that seek to fill the gaps and limitations of the current healthcare system. The Brandon Outreach Clinic provides primary and diagnostic health care to those who cannot afford it.
In addition to a plaque, the Volunteers for Health Award comes with $500 awarded to the Brandon Outreach Clinic in Bowman's honor. Bowman serves as the clinic's pharmacy director.
"He's so thorough, caring and passion-driven; it's just amazing watching him work," said Debbie Meegan, executive director at the Brandon Outreach Clinic. "He understands the importance of getting people the medication they need, so he's always very excited about the work we do here."
Bowman has volunteered at the clinic for 24 years, coming in every Wednesday night as well as on other days when he is needed or on quieter days when he can get some administrative duties done.
He presently works for Medco/Express Scripts, a mail order pharmaceutical company.
"I work in a place with 175 other pharmacists, but they're not as happy or content as the people at the clinic because the people at the clinic really want to be there," Bowman said.
Bowman insists the award says more about the work of those around him than it does about his own accomplishments.
"I'm incredibly honored and grateful, but I can only accept this award on behalf of all volunteers," he said.