Faith inspires community service project
If God opens a door, no man on earth can close it. That's something Rodney Smith discovered after a community service project he started in Huntsville, Alabama, gained national recognition.
Today.com, NBC News, Good Housekeeping and USA Today have praised Raising Men Lawn Care Service. The 26-year-old Bermudian believes the success has come through his faith.
“All of this started because one day I saw an elderly man cutting grass and God told me do something about it,” he said.
“This programme is now changing lives. Many of the people we have helped have told us that they couldn't afford to hire someone to cut the grass. I've heard stories from several senior citizens who were given quotes from landscaping companies of $400 per month. That's a large sum of money for someone who is on a fixed income, and it's not right. I'm just glad that Raising Men Lawn Care could help.”
Mr Smith attended the Southampton Seventh-day Adventist Church as a child. He didn't know much about religion at that time, but it was part of his family's Saturday ritual. There were times he didn't want to go; now that he's older he can see how it affected his life in a positive way.
“In church, I can remember how the pastor always said how important it was to give back and to help others along the way. My mother and father also instilled that same message in me from a very young age.”
His faith began to deepen while a student at Alabama A & M University. “That's when I would hear stories from others about how God led them to do great things and used them as vessels,” he said. “I had never experienced that for myself. I believe God was just waiting for the right time.
“I distinctly remember the day God used me as a vessel. I saw an elderly man cutting grass and wondered why someone else wasn't doing that for him.
“People were driving past him, and I knew I couldn't have been the only one who saw him struggling. Instantaneously, I felt as if God was talking to me and said: 'Do something about it'. I did. I pulled over, walked up to him, and told him I wanted to help. That's how it all began.”
Last year he turned his good deed into a legitimate organisation.
Mr Smith, along with his partners Monique Stevens and Terrence Stroy, lead a team of young people who cut grass for single mothers, the elderly and disabled in Huntsville and surrounding cities, free of charge.
“I believe, 'To whom much is given, much is required',” he said.
They don't just provide yard maintenance, Raising Men Lawn Care Service is also “an inspirational programme committed to keeping young men and boys on a positive path”.
“The foundation is being used to restore the importance of giving back to the community by showing our children, our future, that by helping others they too will receive a sense of accomplishment, self-esteem, and purpose,” Mr Smith said.
“The message of the foundation is that no matter one's age, stature or ethnicity, he or she is capable of achieving great things. Whether the participants learn how to use a lawnmower, weed whacker, or leaf blower while developing teamwork, leadership and listening skills, we will have achieved our goal. Just recently, the public relations officer for Briggs and Stratton, the largest maker of lawnmower engines, found out about Raising Men Lawn Care Service. He decided to feature us in a commercial that has been seen all over the world. The company also plans to donate equipment. All of this is God's work.”
Raising Men Lawn Care Service programmes are currently running in Bermuda, Huntsville, Michigan and Florida.
“Our future goal is to expand the programme to other states as well as other parts of the world. I'm also planning to return to university in August to pursue a master's degree in social work,” he said.
• For more information, visit Raising Men Lawn Care Service on Facebook