A random act of humanity three summers ago started Rodney Smith on a journey that’s called him to mow lawns in all 50 states — as a free service for older residents, single moms, veterans and the disabled.
The Bermuda native, then a college student in Huntsville, Ala., saw an older man struggling to mow his lawn on a hot and humid August day.
“It looked like I should help,” Smith said. So he stopped and mowed the man’s lawn.
That night, he thought he’d continue his good deed and vowed to mow 40 lawns of people who needed help.
Follow Rodney Smith and Raising Men Lawn Care Service on his social media accounts.
** Facebook: www.facebook.com/raisingmenlawncarehsv
** Twitter: @iamrodneysmith
** Instagram: @rodneysmithjr
UP FOR THE CHALLENGE?
Rodney Smith’s foundation, Raising Men Lawn Care Service, encourages kids (boys and girls) to sign up for the 50 Yard Challenge:
** The challenge: Mow 50 lawns for free.
** The reward: A new, different colored T-shirt every time 10 lawns are mowed. Once 50 lawns are cut, participants will receive a new lawn mower, courtesy of Briggs & Stratton, a company that makes lawn mowers and other small-engine products, and other donors.
So far 150 kids have taken the challenge, including three in Hawaii:
** Signing up: Kids can sign up for the challenge on the foundation website: weareraisingmen.com.
Forty lawns became 100 lawns, then a GoFundMe campaign, and a foundation to get kids to help others by mowing lawns. And over the last three days, Smith reached his goal of mowing lawns in all 50 states for a second summer in a row — finishing on Oahu.
“It (mowing lawns) is something so simple, but there’s a need. There’s definitely a need.” Smith said. “Everything just fell into place.”
Smith credits determination, God and social media for the growth of his idea and charity.
“A small idea can go from nothing to something,” Smith said. “You gotta want to do something.”
He finds people who need their lawns mowed through his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. His Facebook page has 69,000 likes. He’s got nearly 41,000 Twitter followers, and nearly 23,000 Instagram followers.
He said he continues mowing lawns because he likes helping others, meeting people and hearing their stories.
Smith turned 29 on the Fourth of July and graduated in May from Alabama A&M University with a master’s degree in social work.
He got the idea to travel to all 50 states after watching the Netflix series, “Kindness Diaries,” about a man who traveled around the world in a vintage, yellow motorbike being kind to others and relying on others for their kindness.
Smith talked to us last week from Minnesota, his last stop in the contiguous United States, before flying off to Alaska and Hawaii over the weekend.
After completing this second summer of traveling the United States mowing lawns and raising awareness about helping others, he’s set a bigger goal for next year — mowing lawns around the world, on seven continents.
“If I never would have come across the elderly man (whose lawn he first mowed), I would have never started this.”
Wherever he goes, Smith keeps his message and purpose simple:
“Be kind to others. There’s plenty of ways to be kind to people.”
Barbara Kim Stanton is the state director for AARP Hawaii, an organization dedicated to empowering people to choose how they live as they age.