Rodney Smith Jr. on Making a Difference One Lawn at a Time

Rodney Smith Jr. uses his lawn care service to help seniors, the disabled, single mothers and veterans, while also mentoring young men and women about the importance of service to others.

My name is Rodney Smith, Jr., and I'm the founder of Raising Men Lawn Care Service.

I was driving, I believe, on Winchester Road in Huntsville, Alabama, and I was leaving school. This is a road I normally do not take but for some reason on this day I took this road. I saw this elderly man—his name was Mr. Brown—and I passed him and I turned around, saying he needed some help. So I pulled over and helped him out, then we talked for a little while and I realized this is something that is needed.

So I decided that night to mow lawns for the elderly, disabled, single-parent mothers and veterans. Everything's been done through social media; when I first started, I went on social media and asked my friends if they knew anyone who fits one of the four categories that I mentioned. I got a few requests and some people mentioned that they needed help—they were elderly as well—and that's how it started.

We also mentor kids from 7-17 and show them the importance of giving back to their communities. We want to take kids away from the video games and stuff like that and get them outside and doing something productive. So that's why it's called Raising Men Lawn Care Service; we also take boys and girls, as well.

A lot of kids, they're not brought up in structured homes, you know. A lot of them are brought up in single-parent mother households who don't have a male figure in their life, so if we can come in and be positive male role models to them, it means a lot to them as well as us.

I have a lot of people coming to me, saying, "I showed my son your video; he wants to do the same thing" or "I showed my daughter your video; she wants to do the same thing." So I'm like the face of Raising Men Lawn Care Service and inspiring kids that way. 

It's important because a lot of them can't afford it, especially a lot of elderly people. I've found that a lot of them are on fixed incomes and they can't really afford lawn care service, so if you can come mow their lawn for free, they can use those funds for food, medication and things they really need. So when we come and do it for free, we're giving them good service, we're talking to them, we're getting to know them.

The goal is get Raising Men Lawn Care Service in all 50 states eventually. This past summer, I did something called "50 States, 50 Lawns" where I went to each state; I also had the idea of something called "7 Continents, 7 Lawns," the same idea of "50 States, 50 Lawns," which I just completed, but this time going to each continent.

I remember a few years back I asked God to use me as his vessel—you know, "Use me, I want you to use me,"—and that day, I felt that that was the day He told me, "This is what I want you to do." So this is the reason I'm doing what I'm doing because God showed me that this is what He wanted me to do, and I believe that this is my purpose.

What I want people to take away from this project is, if they're able, they can do the same. They can make a difference. They can get out there. It doesn't have be to just with lawn mowing; they can just help their neighbor—love thy neighbor—and that's what I was brought up on, you know. Help when you can.

When you have people coming up to me every day, saying, "You motivate me to get out there and make a difference. I want to help my neighbor now because of you." People say that every day. So we're motivating people to make a change in their community, so that's kind of powerful. I believe if we stay on the right path, we can inspire the world, one at a time.

If you're out there and you're listening to this, it doesn't take much to make a difference. If you're able, you can do it. If you want to do it with a lawn mower, you can make a difference, one at a time. 

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