The Hive Five Podcast
5 Key Takeaways from Rodney Smith Jr.
1. Just do it!
2. Be kind.
3. Follow your heart.
4. Find your purpose.
5. Always believe in God.
This is an episode you won’t want to miss! We are honored to be talking with Rodney Smith Jr. today on the Hive Five Podcast. Rodney is the founder of the nonprofit organization, Raising Men Lawn Care Service. Raising Men Lawn Care Service is an organization that works to teach kids the importance of giving back to their communities by mowing free lawns for single moms, the elderly, veterans, and the disabled. They offer a 50 Yard Challenge that kids around the world can accept, and if they mow 50 free lawns, Rodney will fly out to them and gift them with a brand-new lawn mower.
We found Rodney on social media and started following his story before asking him to be on our podcast and tell us his story. It started many years ago when Rodney asked God to use him as a vessel, but an opportunity didn’t appear immediately. It wasn’t until 2015 when he passed by an elderly man that was struggling to mow his lawn. Rodney stopped to help him out and from there, decided to mow free lawns for those in need of it. After a little while, he started Raising Men Lawn Care as a way to mentor kids ages 7-17 by showing them how much of an impact they can make with just a lawn mower.
Out of this came the 50 Yard Challenge. Currently, 22 kids have completed the 50 Yard Challenge, and 244 kids around the world are working to complete it in countries like the US, Canada, Bermuda, England, and even Australia. The reward system is similar to the martial arts belt system. When kids accept the 50 Yard Challenge, they get a white shirt from Raising Men, but as they complete 10, 20, 30, and 40 yards, they will get different colored shirts before hitting 50 when they get to meet Rodney and get a brand-new lawn mower.
This episode is so encouraging and inspirational guys! I’d highly recommend it, and it will definitely spur you to better serve those around you! Please let us know what you think of Rodney and his mission, and give the episode a listen to hear about what Rodney is working on moving forward!
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We’re doing it differently this year is to why instead of doing two or three states a day like I did last year, this time around, I done one day to day up to a [inaudible]. No one’s first take me two months. I just started it May 17th and I finished my last two stops for Alaska and Hawaii.
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Hey guys, thanks for listening today. My name is Keagan with BriteBee. This is Katherine with BriteBee. Thanks for coming back to the Hive Five Podcast and today we’re super excited to have Rodney Smith Jr with us. Rodney is the founder of Raising Men Lawn Care Service, a nonprofit that mows free lawns for veterans, the elderly, single mothers and disabled. Thanks for being on the Hive Five podcast Rodney!
Thank you for having me.
Hey, well, tell us a little bit about your background and why are you mowing lawns for veterans, the elderly, single mothers and the disabled.
Well, it all started the day in 2015, but to tell you more detail about it on before that, uh, I will say most of them are so out of one on one conversation with God and I asked him to use me as a vessel and he didn’t give me an answer that day, not a month later, not even a year later. It had been a few years later and that year was in 2015 when I came across an elderly man outside mowing his lawn and it looked like he was struggling. So, I pulled over right now that night I decided to start mowing free lawns for the disabled, single moms, veterans, and the elderly.
Wow. That was a.
At first my goal was to mow.
Yeah. That, that was a. That was a quick decision right after that happened.
Yeah. I mean it was, you know, and one’s con. This gave birth to a foundation eventually a few months later, a quote Raising Men Lawn Care Service and what we do is mow lawns for the elderly, disabled single moms and veterans, but we also include kids seven through 17 and showed them the importance of giving back to their community. You have a lot more.
So how many people do you have involved in this right now?
Right now we have a total of a three, 444 kids nationwide taking part in a program. We have something called a 50 yard challenge and the challenge is the challenge that we have issued the kids and even worldwide, $53 in their community, free for the elderly, disabled seeing amongst veterans. So that’s a. You had a kid in New York that accepted the 50 yard challenge. They’ll make a sign thing. I said the 50 yard challenge and in return we will send them to white raising. Okay. Tee Shirt wants 10 to get on a shirt, 20 pounds of green blue or red and the black shirt and once to reach 50 besides wherever they are. We did once with them. And we also give them a brand new lawnmower. So today, 22 kids, I’ve completed it according to him. Yes. Two hundred and 44 kids nationwide, including one in Canada, seven in Bermuda and England. And doing a shorter. That’s taking part in this challenge.
That is so cool. So tell us a little bit about what age range are they?
Oh, the. We also have something called the bubble challenge for the younger kids. So let’s say you had a toddler, probably three, four, maybe even to that with the challenge. Um, you’ll send them a bubble more and, or they will do is just say, I sent the bubble challenge. The parents will write them a sign saying I sat the bubble challenging. They go around and pushing their little Baltimore. I’m just making a difference and make people smile.
That is awesome. So they’ve got these little knowers that have bubbles coming out of them and they are participating in, in what you guys are trying to accomplish. That’s pretty fun.
Yeah, it is. No matter how old they are, they too can make a difference. One at a time.
So you made it a mission to travel all 50 states and mow lawns the summer. How did you plan and make that happen?
I actually done it last year as well. Um, so the idea Campbell in my. I was in my internship, um, until I was 17, I think it was February. I was on my lunch break and I was on Netflix and I saw this gentleman that traveled the world on the acts of kindness of others and that just gave me the idea 50 States 50 Lawns. Then that summer I traveled to all 50 states million law for the elderly, disabled single mom developments. The purpose of this trip was to make people more real, raising my lawn care service and encourage more kids that they brought in 50 yard challenge. Yes. So, I’ve done that last summer on Briggs and Stratton the world. Lord is making a small normal engine that they contributed funds as well. That’s my no more criminal last year too, as well as this year’s tour. What was different with this year’s too? I instead of doing two or three states a day like I did last year, this time around, I done once day to day up to. No one’s per state. Took me two months. I started May 17th and I finished July 17 and my last two stops for Alaska and Hawaii. I took a plane to. Yeah, I rented. I rented a little more in Hawaii and in Alaska. Borrowed someone’s lawn
mower. Alaska, yeah, I. Oh, I have seen it. That’s luscious. Yes. I was just about to ask, so I didn’t realize. Are you the only adult that Moe’s lawns yourselves and then you challenged kids all over or do you have other adults that. Mo as well.
Chapters as well. So there’s other adults. Well the goal is to get the kids enrolled. That’s our main purpose and goal. The kids up there.
Okay. Rodney. So you’ve got to be making money somehow. Right? To survive. So how are you making money yourself so that you can continue to do what you’ve been called to do?
I’m not making any money personally. You recently fill out the paperwork for the nonprofit um, paperwork. So we should begin soon, but right now I’m, I’m making no money. Graduated with social work this past right now I’m just pushing to get this foundational. It’s the room right now, so I’m just getting my toes.
Gotcha. Is working hard just to get off because on a startup right here, a startup. That’s awesome. So what are some struggles that you’ve experienced along the way of starting this and how have you overcome them?
It was no real struggles. I mean, when I first started, just getting the word out was a little hard, but I started using the Facebook sites. Then people know because Facebook in each city they got a, a big following. So what I done was a run on the saying, my name is Rodney Smith. I’m looking at the elderly disabled, single mom or a veteran who is completely free and people just start coming in. My mother lives there. I came to table and that’s how it started, so that was the only real difficulty.
Wow. So is there anything that you do differently when you mow the lawns? I mean, is it you get them Mower, you mow the lawn and then you leave or is there anything else that you do that’s maybe special to this charity?
Especially the ones who were elderly, you sometimes stay a little while and catch up on how things are going. So we over the years built a relationship with many of the people. Was the one remote for. So yeah.
So you mentioned relationship building. Are you mowing these people’s lawns more than once? Is that usually the case or is it usually just one time and then you don’t hear back from them? How does that work?
Well, we go back every two to three weeks. Okay. We maintain. Retain alone is not just a one-time thing. It’s
in three weeks. That’s so cool. And so they don’t necessarily have to request it from you guys. You guys just go the first time and then they, you, you basically just set the expectation that you’ll come back every two to three weeks and then it’ll just. It’ll just continue.
Yeah, for the first few times to call us back. Just a,
well, I think what you’re doing is so special and I can’t imagine how much it means to the people who may be mowing their lawn as a challenge or maybe they don’t have a mower or maybe they’re not able to get out and do it themselves and I’m just really curious for you to like paint a picture for us and tell us what that impact has looked like. I mean, I’m sure people are very expressive of their gratitude towards you guys. Am I right?
Oh yeah. I mean, especially the ones that don’t, it means so much so that we can come. No, they can use those funds for medication and they’re really need. It means the world and then they can move up so they can’t get mood. The mood and is growing high. They feel down, but when they can get on a nice fresh meat mowed lawn on a regular,
do you have a particular story that’s just impacted your life that sticks with you as you continue to press on?
One lady by the name of Ms. Dot Gibbs. I think when we first went to our house, taken advantage over how long have certain height so he can come back every week and also there’s a lot of stories like that. Yeah, it was good. She was getting taken advantage of and she told us this like, why? Why wouldn’t you just stop paying them? Because she heard that no one else will more alone. Now we move a free and she no longer has to worry and she didn’t use the funds for medication and other things like she really needed. So a lot of stories like that year. A lot.
Especially the ones that I can take advantage of.
It’s really sad to hear that people are taking care, taking advantage of mowing someone’s lawn. Right?
Some people do like just caught a certain height. Then there are some people that overcharged someone, especially the elderly people, overcharged because small. I remember one lady are. Her yard wasn’t even that big and the gardener was charging her about $250 every two weeks. Oh, crazy.
Where do you see yourself and raising men at in let’s say, five years, where do you guys see yourself side?
goal is to be. Yeah,
and more states eventually and hopefully worldwide. I mean we’ll again more some kids in Australia.
Did kids around the world find you? Challenge, having chapters build up and someday I would like to see it become a national organization like big brothers, big sisters association.
How many kids would you say total are a part of the 50 yard challenge?
Oh, 244 kids right now.
That’s amazing. And are most of those in the United States?
Okay. Yeah. And you said you said Bermuda also in Bermuda and where else?
Canada, England and Australia.
Okay. How did you reach these people? Where do they find you?
Oh, social media, social media. Seeing the story and heard about the challenge of reached out on that. We sent them the shirts, the donut right now.
Can you give us a little bit of picture of what it actually looks like? Like how many? At least a few lines. Right?
Fifty yards. No.
Wow. Hold on. Rewind. Been thinking about this. I’ve been thinking 50 yards was a like a distance. I’m thinking I’m glad I asked because I was thinking the same. I was like, how much is this? Yeah. I’m sitting here thinking like, okay, 50 yards. There’s like half a football field, right? Individual yard. That is so funny. That was a very dull moment for me. That is great. So actually 50 yards so. And that would be useful.
That great. That is so cool. Well Rodney, we want to make sure that we have plenty of time to talk about your five key takeaways for anybody that’s listening today. So what would you share with people who are either interested in getting involved or people who feel like they’ve been called to do something, whether it’s in business or a nonprofit, what are those? What are those five things that you would share with anybody listening?
I believe for reason. Do it to someone else, and then when see the audio and action. Oh, I had that same idea. So just do it. Like Nike says, just do it.
Okay. So we’ll say
be kind to one another, kind to someone and have a domino effect. You being conscious with someone.
She’ll be someone else.
It can make a whole difference in someone’s day just to be in kind. I will also say follow your heart. I got this whole foundation with just a simple act of kindness by God and it made me go to school and get my master’s in social work. Is that a time I was getting my bachelor’s in computer science, so I switched a whole different field and I’m doing what I love to do and I believe I found my purpose and I will also say another one would be cool. It would be find your purpose. You know, I’m lucky it will have been able to find mine so young. Some people don’t find that purpose is to there, the older, but just act God.
Following your purpose and will show you just like he did for me. And my last one would be always believe in God. Vote here more. This will not be possible.
That’s anyone just believe in God. That’s all I say.
So I think one of the obvious questions that maybe we overlooked, and I think it might tie in to your, your um, you’re number five takeaway was raising men and the name. I want to know where that came from and the inspiration behind that.
The logo. I just came across a guy moving the little kids beyond him.
Originally I had two names are raising men or raising kings. What the raising men stuck. Can I crown on top of the gentlemen said,
Who has the more and more when all logo, but just because it’s called raising men, it doesn’t mean that we don’t.
Have young ladies. We have a good bill young ladies and that as well. I’m currently working on.
A new logo for the young ladies in the program as well. Women. It’s coming soon. Yeah.
Great. Now do you guys have any kind of a program or anything that you. Material that you guys use to teach these kids to raise them up as men or women or is that something in the works?
Oh, that’s something that works. You know, that’s something definitely to work. Some structured.
That’s great. And so, I guess along with that question, and it sounds like people just kind of take the challenge online and y’all are in communication with them, sending them shirts and stuff, but earlier you mentioned chapters and how y’all are working towards that is are you thinking that these kids who were in the same areas can congregate and be together as a community and have meetings and stuff or how does that work? Do y’all ever see each other face to face or is all of your communication through phone calls or online or whatever?
Yeah, most of the communications, most of the kids still live each. Okay. But most don’t have no other communications with other kids in the program right now, but we’re working on trying to bring everybody together and trying to make it a whole network.
So, Rodney, what is the best way for people to get in touch with you if they want to be a part of Raising Men Lawn Care Service, and do the 50-yard challenge, what’s the best way?
The best way is to just contact us on our website at weareraisingmen.com and they could find all the information there. Yeah.
Fantastic. And so one last question, how can we and our listeners help you and your mission? Is there anything for the people listening today that they can do that would specifically help you guys?
I’ll just keep spreading the word and joining the program. So if you’re one operation.
Check out Raising Men Lawn Care Service: http://weareraisingmen.com/
Follow Rodney’s Travels on Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamrodneysmith?lang=en
Like Raising Men on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/raisingmenlawncarehsv/
More Info about the 50 Yard Challenge: http://weareraisingmen.com/50-yard-challenge/
Recommend Someone for Service: http://weareraisingmen.com/service/