One man in Alabama is showing how far a kind act can go with his free lawn care business. The idea started with one elderly man who needed help mowing his lawn. It was then that Rodney Smith realized his purpose in life. After traveling around the country mowing lawns for those in need, his business has taken off, inspiring children everywhere to follow Rodney’s lead. Read on to see how such a simple act is transforming communities around America.
Just Your Average College Student
In 2015, Rodney Strong was in his late-twenties and pursuing a degree in computer science at A&M University in Alabama. It was just another day until Rodney came across an elderly man mowing his lawn.
He noticed that the old man could use a hand, so Rodney decided to help him finish the labor. All of a sudden, the college student realized he was on the wrong path. He suddenly knew what his purpose in life was.
Helping Those In Need Mow Their Lawns
Rodney realized that there are tons of people who struggle to keep up with their yard work due to physical setbacks. Whether the person is elderly, disabled, a veteran, or a single parent, Rodney wants to help.
In 2016, the good samaritan made his vision a reality by starting a nonprofit based in Huntsville, Alabama. He named it Raising Men Lawn Care Service, as he hoped to inspire other young men and boys to follow his lead.
50 States, 50 Lawns
After starting his nonprofit, Rodney decided to create a challenge for himself. He set out to mow at least one lawn in all 50 states. In addition to donations, there was one company that made Rodney’s plan a reality.
A Milwaukee-based lawnmower engine company named Briggs & Stratton provided Rodney with the equipment and funds he needed to travel the country mowing lawns for free. A spokesperson said that Rodney is the “embodiment of our company values.”
Giving Back To Those Who Served
Rodney isn’t only concerned with helping those who are physically incapable of mowing their lawns. When it comes to those who served the country, he believes they deserve help no matter what.
Moving the lawns of veterans is one way to acknowledge what they’ve done for us all. Some families he’s worked for currently have a loved one overseas, while others were retired and home safe. Regardless of their situation, Rodney is happy to help.
Looking Out For Others
For those who do have trouble walking, breathing, or any other ailments, someone like Rodney seems like a lifesaver. They already spend enough money on medical bills and other services.
Having someone who is willing to do a major chore for free is a huge help to those in need. Seeing their smiling faces after Rodney is done taking care of their lawns is priceless. No matter where he goes, he manages to find someone who could use a helping hand.
Inspiring Kids To Participate
The reason Rodney named his nonprofit “Raising Men Lawn Care Service” is because it is not only a free service that he provides but also a youth-driven program. He uses the lawnmowing service as a vehicle through which to direct young people towards a selfless path.
The program not only teaches young people about lawnmowing but also provides them with a way to give back to their community. It teaches children a lesson about working hard and the importance of contributing to something bigger.
A Nationwide Cause
One way that Rodney has managed to spread awareness for his cause is through his 50 yard challenge. Similar to how he started off with a goal of mowing 50 lawns in 50 states, now children can aim to achieve something similar.
Each child who enters the challenge agrees to mow 50 lawns in their community. They announce their interest by holding up a sign that reads “I accept the 50 yeard challenge.” Some kids also state what city they’re from to show how far-spread the cause has become.
Promoting Gender Equality
When a child first agrees to the challenge, they get a “Raising Men Lawn Care Service” shirt. The problem is that not all children participating are boys. To promote gender equality, Rodney created a “Raising Women Lawn Care Service” sector.
Now boys and girls can learn about the meaning of physical labor and feel good about giving back to the community. As they reach milestones in the number of lawns mowed, they earn different colored shirts to mark their achievements.
Bringing Families Together
Rodney’s lawn care service not only encourages children to support their communities but also brings families together in the process. As young men and women learn about giving back, they also discover the importance of respecting their elders.
Likewise, parents and grandparents can support the next generation and feel proud about what they’re doing. The process creates bonding that crosses generations and genders. Moving towards a goal is important to kids, especially when they know their family believes in them.
Delivering Kids Their Rewards
There is more in it for the kids than just the gratification of a job well done. Rodney has received so much support in his nonprofit that he’s able to afford gifts for every child who completes the 50 lawn challenge.
Not only do they get several shirts as they reach milestones, but they also get a massive prize at the end. Rodney delivers a lawnmower, a weed eater, and a blower. That’s around a $500 value!
A Big Motivation To Keep Up The Good Work
Even if siblings or friends take on the challenge together, they still get their very own equipment as a reward. For a little kid, getting something so valuable is a huge deal.
Since the tools are specifically for lawn work, it encourages the children to keep up the good work. It also teaches them the value of earning what they receive, rather than just being gifted an expensive present without having to work for it.
Keeping Eyes And Ears Protected
Though children who participate do need a lawnmower, Rodney’s nonprofit sends them protective glasses and earplugs free of charge. This way, the kids are protected when they participate.
The challenge is specifically for children as young as 7 and up to 17. In the fall, participants can rake leaves as part of their 50 lawn goal. They can also shovel snow in the winter when lawnmowing isn’t always possible. The added options ensure that the good deeds continue year-round.
A Presence In Every State
After traveling to every state in the United States to mow lawns himself, Rodney has inspired children around the country to continue the selfless work. He still travels the states often to deliver equipment and help mow, showing that he’s always committed to the cause.
This chart illustrates how massive his 50-yard challenge has become. There are anywhere from 2 to 123 participants in every state, and are even some in other countries!
Working Alongside The Kids
Rodney doesn’t just distribute the work and sit back while it’s being done. Like a true leader, he works side by side with the kids whenever he’s in the area. He also continues to mow lawns on his own to reach as many in need as he can.
As the saying goes, the best way to lead is by example. Rodney is the true embodiment of that sentiment, continuing the hard work as though he just started yesterday.
Recognition From Lays
All of Rodney’s hard work and determination haven’t been overlooked. Not only have companies and individuals helped support his nonprofit, but he’s also gotten some recognition from major corporations. Lays decided to feature Rodney on their bags as part of their Smile With Lays campaign.
On the front of select bags is a smile modeled after Rodney, and on the back is a photo with information about Raising Men Lawn Care Service. Since the service brings smiles to people across the country, Lays thought Rodney was the perfect person to join the campaign.
Many Miles On The Road
After several years, you would think Rodney would be exhausted from all of the hard work and travel. Still, he drives all around the country, doing what he loves by being of service to others.
Rodney posted this map on Instagram to show how long one of his trips was going to be. The more than 4 thousand mile trip would take 66 hours to complete! If that’s not passion and commitment, then we don’t know what is.
A Gift From Ford
With all of the driving that Rodney does, we can only imagine the toll it’s taken on his car. Fortunately, yet another major corporation stepped in to support Rodney’s dream. Ford supplied the leader with a brand new car!
The company sent representatives to Michigan, where Rodney was getting ready to mow his next lawn. They manicured the yard on his behalf for a change, and then surprised him with a 2020 Ford Edge! They then transported the vehicle to his home in Alabama.
Expanding His Service Beyond Mowing Lawns
With all of the help and support Rodney has received from children all the way up to corporations, he’s been able to expand his services. In addition to caring for people’s lawns, he’s also started a delivery service.
Using some of the funds from his nonprofit, Rodney buys food and supplies for those in need and drops them off at their front door! He calls it “Mow and Drop.” Those who are financially struggling or having a hard time getting out of the house can have some necessities to help them get by.
Spreading Love And Peace
In a time of division and strife, the country is desperate for some love and kindness. That’s precisely what Rodney is spreading. His actions speak volumes and encourage others to take care of one another.
He often takes selfies with those he helps, and their smiles are priceless. Rodney also likes to hold up a peace sign, which symbolizes what his nonprofit ultimately stands for: bringing others together in peace and gratitude, and doing what you can.
Fostering A Culture Of Giving Back
Rodney’s attitude is infectious, so many are filled with joy and a caring attitude just by seeing his efforts. One man he delivered to said that his daughter had already come by to stalk his pantry.
Since the man was okay with supplies, he told Rodney to take what he didn’t need to another family who would need it. This story is just one example of how Rodney’s efforts promote generosity and kindness, even to strangers.
Making Grandma Proud
We can only imagine how proud Rodney’s family must be of him. His grandmother was so moved by her grandson’s efforts that she sewed together this quilt for him. It contains the various shirts that children get as they move towards their 50-yard goal.
It also has images from Rodney’s Instagram accounts that summarize the incredible impact his organization has made. From individuals and families to communities and corporations, his nonprofit truly is raising men and women everywhere.
Encouraging Siblings To Work Together
The term “sibling rivalry” is common for a reason. For many, growing up with a brother or sister can be challenging. Yet another positive impact of Rodney’s 50-yard challenge is that it encourages siblings to work together.
Even those who want to compete against one another to race to the end goal at least have something positive to go head-to-head over. Siblings don’t always have common interests, but anyone can appreciate the sense of purpose that comes with helping others.
Family Bonding Time
The 50-yard challenge also creates an opportunity for families to bond across generations. This grandfather is showing his young grandson how to mow a lawn. Since children as young as 7 can participate, it gives guardians an activity to share with their little ones.
No one is ever too young or too old to benefit from the sense of accomplishment that comes when you see a transformation you made. Having a partner to help you along the way gives you a deeper sense of appreciation for that person.
Working Hard But Having Fun
One important life lesson to remind ourselves of at any age is not to take yourself too seriously. Though the 50-yard challenge ultimately comes with a prize at the end, it’s about the journey and not the destination.
Just look at how much fun this girl looks like she’s having while maintaining a yard! If she were too fixed on the end goal, she might not get to enjoy the experience in the moment as much.
A Wholesome Activity For Friends
Many of us can look back on our youth and smirk or roll our eyes at all of the trouble that we got into as kids. Rather than doing something unproductive with their time, friends have a wholesome activity they can feel proud of and get praise for doing.
As the name implies, Raising Men Lawn Care Service encourages kids to grow up respectably and to see the value in good deeds. Plus, yard work is a great way to get out all that restless energy.
Making A Difference One Lawn At A Time
Rodney’s company motto is “Making a difference one lawn at a time.” When you see photos of some of the people he helps, the motto takes on a significant meaning. It’s easy to overlook how difficult some tasks are for those who are disabled.
Although it may seem simple and not-so-significant to mow a neighbor’s lawn, Rodney proves how impactful something so small can be. The widespread growth of his service is a testament to how far a tiny act can go.
A Dream Of Expanding To Other Continents
Though Rodney’s service is already present in 8 different countries, he hopes to go bigger. Shortly after his 50-state, 50-yard goal, Rodney set his sights on a 7-continent, 7-lawns dream.
He also uses his nonprofit to support other important causes. He’s auctioned off his lawnmower to donate proceeds to organizations like Fallen Heroes, Teacher Appreciation, and Childhood Cancer. Visit weareraisingmen.com to support Rodney, learn more, and get a child you know involved!