NeW is proud to announce the 2019 Honorary Gentleman is Rodney Smith Jr.
Rodney is the founder of Raising Men Lawn Care Service. In 2015, he started to notice that many disadvantaged people in his community struggled with lawn care. He also saw that youth were energetic and enthusiastic about serving, but often struggled to find opportunities that would allow young people to serve in their communities. Thus began Raising Men Lawn Care Service. Rodney saw a powerful way to channel two needs—a need for lawn care and a need for youth to develop social skills and community awareness—into a driving force for good.
Raising Men has clubs in various place through the USA. These clubs coordinate services with the elderly, veterans, disabled, and single mothers to provide year round lawn care. To provide incentives for young men and women to get involved, Rodney developed the 50 Yard Challenge, which asks them to commit to mow 50 lawns. Participants sign up and are mailed a white T-shirt and are asked to post a picture on social media letting people know what they are doing and why. Along the lines of the karate system, after every 10 lawns mowed, participants receive a different color T-shirt, until they receive their black T-shirt.
Additionally, Smith created a personal challenge for himself—to mow 2-3 lawns in all 50 states. Just this past Christmas, Smith traveled across all 50 states dressed as Santa, bringing presents he received funding for via donations.
We interviewed Rodney about his work and about what it means to be a gentleman.
What’s your favorite part about the work you do with Raising Men?
Meeting the different people, especially the veterans and hearing the stories – it means a lot to them that I come and mow their lawn and talk to them because a lot of the time, they don’t have anyone to come by and talk to them. Most of the time, many of them are on fixed incomes and can’t afford to pay anyone to mow their lawns, so when someone cuts it for them for free, they can now use those funds for medication, food, and other things they really need.
What would you say defines a gentleman?
Being kind, being a leader, setting examples for the youth – those things are important.
Why is it so important to support gentlemen in today’s culture?
In this day and age, the media can kind of twist things and they can say “oh this is a gentleman” when they’re not really a gentleman. It can be someone bad…so I think it’s important that gentleman get spotlighted so kids growing up can see what a true gentleman is and how they should carry themselves and that person can be a role model for others.
Check out this interview of Rodney by Briggs & Stratton.
Learn more about The Gentlemen Showcase and nominate a gentleman you know at www.gentshowcase.com before February 14. Voting opens on February 15. #GentShowcase