After hearing some noises outside her home, an Alabama woman looked out her window to find a strange black man in her yard. He walked away before she could say anything, but she later found out that she was one of many people who had been selected over the last couple of months, all of whom had one or two things in common.
Dawn Reynolds couldn’t believe what this guy was doing, and with no media attention on it, she took it upon herself to contact the local news station, WHNT NEWS 19. Investigators with the news outlet recognized the connection Reynold’s had with the 99 other people who this man, later identified as Rodney Smith Jr., had selected, and they knew where to expect him next. With cameras rolling, they confronted Smith at another woman’s home, doing exactly what Reynolds had found him doing at her house several weeks earlier.
Starting in September, Smith set out on a mission to cut 100 lawns by November 25, for free and for a very specific group of people. In an effort to give back to women who either face financial or physical struggle, Smith decided to cut the lawns of 100 Huntsville single moms and elderly women living alone, in a massive undertaking that he did all by himself. However, it didn’t come without some personal challenges.
Smith in the act of 100 lawns
It took this young man a while to complete the service project, not just because he was alone, but because other things were in his way, which he had to juggle — specifically, his full load of classes at Alabama A&M University. In every ounce of free time Smith could find when he wasn’t in class, he was mowing lawns, all before the winter hit. Each day, after school let out for him at about 3 p.m., he’d fire up the lawn mower and get to work. With no weekend courses, he spent all Saturday and Sunday cutting grass in a diligent effort that paid off in the end.
Smith not only completed his goal of all 100 lawns before Thanksgiving, his work wasn’t done in vain. Reynolds represents the majority of the recipients of Smith’s good deed, who expressed deep appreciation for this unexpected gift. “I am just really impressed at what he’s doing,” Reynolds told the news station. “He’s a young man doing wonderful things, and I think that’s missing in the world today.”
Rodney Smith Jr.
When WHNT caught wind of what he was doing and found him in the act, he was on lawn number 81. Reporters surprised him with a wad of cash, totaling $319, which he didn’t think was real or deserved. “Is this April Fool’s?” Smith asked the reporter, before finding out he was the recipient of the financial reward from the station, after having been nominated by Reynolds for “Paying it Forward.”
Now that project for others is done, he’s focusing his efforts on something else. Smith wants to spread the love while encouraging other young men and women to do good things for others, rather than only thinking of themselves. He started Raising Men Lawn Care Service to get an army of young good Samaritans together and ready to cut needy people’s grass, starting this spring.
Smith is showing that it’s cool to be caring and his effort to perpetually give back in ever-increasing ways is contagious. This is exactly what our communities need to counter the entitlement issue that plagues society.
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