Rodney Smith Jr. was outside one day last year when he saw an elderly man mowing his yard. Smith, 26, knew at that moment that he could—and should—do something to help. So he did.
He started with a goal: Mow 40 lawns for the elderly and single parents around the area.
These days he’s blown that goal out of the water and created a program to mentor kids and teens in the community. The Bermuda native now runs Raising Men Lawn Care Service, a program that teaches young boys to cut lawns for the elderly, disabled and single mother homes for free.
“I’m doing something positive, and I want boys to follow my footsteps,” Smith said on his Facebook page. “I want them to be better than me and give back.
While most of the boys were first volunteered by their mothers and grandmothers who had seen a Facebook post, they’ve now started calling Smith to schedule more lawns to cut. Smith makes it fun by having lawnmower racing and other friendly competitions to build a team mentality.
One of the preteen boys, CJ, stands out in particular.
“He really felt proud of himself for giving back to this elderly woman” Smith said. “He wanted to do it again and again. He just loves it.”
Only a few of the boy came to Smith even knowing how to work a lawnmower. He has since become a mentor and role model for those children and teens—something he takes seriously.
The program has gained so much attention that he’s fielding calls from as far away as New Zealand from people who want to start chapters in their area.
Smith will graduate this month from Alabama A&M and will return in the fall to get his Master’s degree. He works on his off days and in between classes to make sure the lawns are cut at least every two weeks.
“A lot of the people we cater to are elderly and can’t afford it when companies charge them $300-500 per month to cut their lawn,” Smith said. “It saves them money, and they can put that towards medication or something they really need.”
How you can help:
A Kickstarter campaign has raised more than $35,000 towards their goal of $38,000. You can donate online here.