It’s no secret that finding time to mow the lawn can be difficult, perhaps even more so for first responders who are always prepared for emergencies.
That’s why Rodney Smith Jr., owner of Huntsville-based Raising Men and Women Lawn Care Service, will stop in Columbus to mow a Lowndes County volunteer firefighter’s lawn later this month.
Smith told the Dispatch he plans to stop in Columbus in late September as part of the 16th State Shearing Tour, a national effort to provide free shearing services to those in need and promote youth community service.
“I started the tour in 2017 and have continued to do it to make people aware of the organization,” Smith said. “Then I eventually started cutting for different causes like breast cancer, kids with cancer, veterans, police, and I cut for autism awareness. Doing that has evolved into what it is today.”
– Encouraging youth community service
Smith founded Raising Men and Women Lawn Care Service in 2016 after stopping to help an elderly man mow his lawn in Huntsville. Due to the impact of this act, Smith also started the 50 Yard Challenge, which encourages minors to cross 50 yards free of charge for the elderly, disabled, single parents and veterans. Registered participants receive a free t-shirt for every 10 yards served and a weed eater and mower upon completion.
When Smith started the program, he only had a few kids mowing lawns around Huntsville for those in need. Now, more than 5,000 people nationwide have volunteered their free time to help Smith in his mission.
“It feels good for them to mow grass for people in need,” he said. “You know, one day I’ll be old, and I hope the program still exists, and the kids can help me one day. It’s a much-needed service.”
Highlighting the service of firefighters
As part of his visit to Columbus, Smith said he will also interview the firefighter about his job and why he does it.
“I will interview them and share their story,” he said. “It’s just something that’s unique and people will be drawn to it. Every story is different and unique in its own way. I’m so appreciative of the people who embraced the idea (of mowing their lawn and doing an interview) and helped me in my mission to do that.”
LVFD Coordinator Neil Austin said he was happy to have Smith come in for an interview and get to know a member of his staff.
“For me, this is big and it’s going to be interesting,” Austin said. “It’s huge because (these firefighters) get a lot of work to do, but they don’t get a lot of pay for it.”
Smith said he also hopes some Columbus youth will join the 50 Yard Challenge program during his visit, and said anyone interested in applying can do so on his website, wearerisingmen.com.
“The children have been involved since the beginning of the program,” he said. “Our basic idea for the program is basically built around them as well because the challenge started at the national level as well.”
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy society. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for just $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.