Mowing lawns is a popular and age-old way for young people to help out neighbors and make a few bucks. But thanks to Rodney Smith Jr. and his nonprofit Raising Men & Women Lawn Care Service, people in need are getting their grass cut for free while the youth manning the lawn mowers receive valuable mentorship in the process.
Smith, who is originally from Bermuda, founded the organization in Huntsville, Alabama, in 2016. Raising Men & Women Lawn Care Service mainly helps out disabled and older folks on fixed incomes, as well as single parents and veterans. They get their yards trimmed free of charge so “they can use their extra funds for food and medication,” he told USA Today.
The nonprofit’s mowers are children and teens aged 7 to 17. The intention is to mentor them and instill the values of discipline, hard work, and helping those in need. Since its inception, Raising Men & Women Lawn Care has expanded to have at least one participating kid in all 50 U.S. states and in eight countries. “What a perfect way to help out, especially during the summer when they’re out of school by going out and mowing free lawns?” Smith said.
Know a young person who’d like to get involved? The nonprofit’s 50-Yard Challenge is a great place to begin. All they have to do to join is fill out (or have a parent fill out) a brief form on the Raising Men & Women Lawn Care website and upload a picture of themselves holding a sign that reads “I accept the 50-Yard Challenge.”
The nonprofit will then mail them a T-shirt, sunglasses, and ear protection to get them started. A helpful FAQ and lawn safety video are also available. For every 10 lawns mowed, participants receive a new shirt in a different color.
Those who complete the challenge get an even bigger bonus: “Once they mow 50, I will drive to wherever they are in the United States, I will do lawns with them, and I will also give them a brand-new mower, weedeater, and blower for finishing this 50-yard challenge,” Smith explains in a video on the website. So far, more than 4,900 youngsters have participated in their communities and more than 20,000 lawns have been mowed for free.
His dream is that Raising Men & Women Lawn Care inspires even more young people to serve their communities. He told USA Today: “I hope to encourage kids across this country and worldwide to go out there and make a difference.”