This recently graduated college student started an organization with 20 boys to mow lawns for the elderly and disabled for free everyday.
It may sound superficial, but lawn care is important for many people and some cities will even administer citations to those not keeping up their yards. So when Rodney Smith Jr., a college senior at Alabama A&M University, noticed an elderly man struggling to mow his own lawn, he had the idea to help him—and hundreds more.
Smith originally posted on Facebook to ask friends if they knew elderly or disabled people who needed their grass cut for free, even though he didn’t have his own lawnmower to get the job done. People responded with names of those in need, and he set out to cut 40 lawns by winter.
Since some clients didn’t have their own lawnmowers, he found a cheap one on Craigslist to haul around with him. When he arrived to purchase the lawnmower, he told the seller what he was planning to do with it and the man gave the mower to him for free.
Smith’s goal of 40 lawns came and went quickly in October, so he resolved to cut 100 instead, an ambitious goal for someone going to school full-time and studying computer science.
When he saw the need for free lawn care grow, he decided his small charity work needed to grow as well. After winning $319 from a news network’s “pay it forward” segment, he started an official charity called “Raising Men Lawn Care Service.”
The group of now 20 boys, ages 7-17, is all about helping the community and helping the boys develop into nice, young men by experiencing the humility of assisting those in need.
He and his partner Terrence Stroy said that when they take them on outings, they help them work on developing self-esteem, a strong work ethic, high moral standards, and leadership skills. They also teach the boys to cut grass, rake and bag leaves, and use weed eaters and trimmers.
As for why they provide their service for free, Smith explained,
“A lot of people, they can’t afford it. They’re on social security, barely making it, and they’re happy we can do this every two weeks for them.”
Yes, every two weeks. Not only does Raising Men come and take care of lawns, but they come back every two weeks for all of their clients to maintain the lawns. Smith himself goes out to cut lawns everyday, often between classes.
The experience is emotionally rewarding, as the boys have seen their share of people crying when they help them. Smith described one client’s reaction:
“One lady had bone cancer and couldn’t afford to pay someone to cut her grass. So many people have fallen on hard times and it feels good to be able to help them.”
On most days, the boys take photos with the client and post a short caption. Their Facebook page is active and recently one of their photos went viral.
For the future, Smith wants to return to school to get his Master’s degree in social work. He said,
“All of this has made me want to do social work. I love helping people.”
As for Raising Men, Smith has been contacted by several people all over the world asking if they can open up their own chapters for their communities.
The organization has a GoFundMe page to raise money to purchase and maintain the equipment, and Smith hopes to use some of the money to expand the organization and turn it into a “global” movement.
What are your thoughts on Smith’s organization and his future goals? Please comment on, like, and share this article!
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