Have you ever mowed the lawn for someone outside your family? If so, you probably weren’t doing it solely out of the goodness of your heart.
People will often pay for lawn mowing services, so it’s become quite common among kids and teens to turn slashed grass into fast cash.
Yet, for Rodney Smith Jr, mowing lawns has never been about the money. One day in 2015, the Alabama resident noticed an old man struggling to cut his grass. The next day, he took to Facebook, offering free lawn care services for seniors, disabled people, and single mothers in his area.
“My father always told me, ‘If you have an idea, go for it,’” Smith told TODAY. “When I saw that man, it hit me. I felt I needed to do something and I went for it.”
Smith set the goal of cutting 40 lawns before winter set in. He accomplished that goal in just over a month. So he set a new goal: 100 lawns before winter. He accomplished that goal in just two months. When winter finally arrived, he started Raising Men Lawn Care Service.
This group takes young people ages 7 to 17 from around the area and puts them to work mowing struggling neighbors’s lawns. If you live near Huntsville, Alabama and wish to enlist their services, then you’re in luck. They’ll take care of your lawn for the low low rate of zero dollars and zero cents.
All funding is earned through their GoFundMe page, so you can rely on them even when you’re dirt poor.
“It was amazing to see how many people were actually in need of help,” Smith said. “You have no idea what someone could need unless you extend a hand.”
Beyond providing free services, Smith has helped many young people grow and build character. The group originally consisted only of boys, but last year, Smith opened up the group to girls as well.
“They’re young, but they say, ‘It’s cool to give back.’ They see the faces of the single mothers, or the senior citizens when they finish the job and they know they’ve made a difference as part of a team,” he said. “That makes them feel good, and I think it puts a good head on their shoulders.”
Smith moved from Bermuda when he was 16 years old, and his giving nature is a direct result of his heritage.
“When you come from a country with less than 65,000 people, everyone knows everyone, so everyone helps each other,” Smith said. “We call it ‘the Bermudian way.’ It’s a culture of giving back, of paying it forward.”
This culture is also responsible for what is potentially the greatest honor he has ever received. Since Bermuda is a British territory, Smith qualifies as a British subject and is therefore eligible for a Queen’s Award.
One day, he received an invitation to an honors and awards ceremony back in Bermuda. Later that week he flew out, accepted the award, and toured around the island. It didn’t take too long since Bermuda’s only 21 miles wide.
Despite the international recognition, Rodney has stayed humble. He views his experience as a way to serve the community.
“You know, God works in mysterious ways, and He shows you what He wants to be done, and he has told me that he wants me to do all this, so I’m just listening to Him.”
So far, Raising Men has mowed over 2,000 lawns and it doesn’t look like they’re going to stop any time soon.