How One Man Is Using a Lawnmower to Make the World a Better Place

What’s your tool of choice?

In the summer of 2015, Rodney Smith Jr. was driving in Huntsville, Alabama when he saw something that caught his attention: an elderly man struggling to cut his grass. Instead of continuing on his way like a lot of people would, however, Rodney got out of his car and helped the man out. When he was done, the elderly man wasn’t the only person smiling. Rodney was too.

But Rodney didn’t stop there.

While finishing his bachelor’s degree in computer science, seeing how much this simple gesture meant to the man, in-between classes the then 26-year-old began doing yard work free of charge for people around town who could use a hand. Single moms. Disabled people. The elderly. Military vets. He challenged himself to mow 100 lawns in a month. He reached that goal. His rationale for doing this? He wanted to do his part. He wanted to let people know he cared. He wanted people to feel seen.

But Rodney didn’t stop there.

He started an organization to get kids from all over Huntsville involved, some of which didn’t have father-figures in their lives. He called it “Real Men Lawn Care Services.” He taught these kids how to do yard work. He wanted them to experience the proud feeling of accomplishment. He wanted them to understand the importance of doing their part in servicing their community.

But Rodney didn’t stop there.

In April 2016, roughly four months after he began his organization, word of his mission outgrew Alabama. A kid in Ohio let him know he wanted to cut some grass too. Rodney took the initiative nationwide. He created a social media campaign called the “50 Yard Challenge” to encourage kids from all 50 states to get involved. It worked. Rodney and his non-profit went viral.

But Rodney didn’t stop there.

He decided to turn it up a notch by personally cutting lawns in all 50 states. He again turned to social media to let people know what he was up to. He called it “50 lawns in 50 states.” It worked. People responded. He’s since traveled the US eight times in the name of different causes and groups in need off the back of the legion of supporters who have been drawn to his work.

But Rodney didn’t stop there.

When coronavirus hit, Rodney created yet another campaign — “Mow and Drop” — where he not only takes care of the lawns of Huntsville residents who are at risk. But he also goes out and buys groceries and leaves them at their front door. Since physical contact is off-limits, Rodney uses a selfie-stick to capture the moment with “the people he has the pleasure to serve.” They’re smiling. Always.

“It’s a great feeling that people like you come by and volunteer for us veterans.” — “Richard Lucky

“It means a lot because my husband had a stroke and he has Parkinson’s and he tries to cut the grass, but the majority of it falls on me. And it’s just a lot. And you could never believe how much this has helped us out. — Beverly Rogers

“This was a blessing from Sweet Baby Jesus, so thank you.” — Tanya

These are just a few of the words people have said of Rodney and his work.

We overestimate what it takes to make an impact and we underestimate how simple it can really be.

Cutting the grass of someone who could use a hand.
Shoveling their sidewalk.
Getting them groceries.
Checking-in to see how they are doing.

These things may sound little. But they’re not.

Think about your tool of choice.
Maybe it’s a pen.
Or maybe it’s a piano.
Rodney uses a lawnmower.

Pay attention.
Lift up your head.
Look at what’s around you.
Maybe playing your part isn’t very hard.
Maybe it’s easier than you think.

Your presence. A kind gesture. A few minutes of your time.

But don’t stop there.

Get to know Rodney on Twitter and Instagram.

Written by

Co-creator of 2 boys with my dream girl • Career coach • Featured in Business Insider, Fast Co, MSN, & Forbes • Join 40K+ others by following along.

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