An entrepreneur in Huntsville, Alabama, who has toured the country nine times providing free lawn care service, is seeking support to remain in the country.
Rodney Smith Jr., the founder of Raising Men Lawn Care Service, moved to the U.S. from Bermuda when he was 16 years old to attend a boarding school for children with disabilities. After years of training in social work, he is now renowned throughout the state for his lawn care work that provides pro bono services for veterans and the less fortunate, TV outlet 1011 Now reports.
Smith started the foundation in 2016 to provide a platform for young people to help and connect with their neighbors. In June 2019, Smith concluded a lawn-mowing tour for veterans, and has since cut lawns in all 50 states. Each time Smith travels with his business, his tours focus on aiding a specific group of at-risk people.
With the autumn season in full gear, Smith’s "50 Yard Challenge" campaign aims to inspire youth to get out and help their community by cleaning up as many lawns as they can. For every 10 yards cut, participating youth will receive a new color RMLCS shirt until they reach a mark of 50 lawns. Upon reaching the benchmark of 50 yards, Smith and his team will join the volunteer in their hometown to cut some local lawns and give them a brand new lawn mower, weed eater and blower, per the foundation’s website.
Smith told CNN more than 1,300 kids from the ages of 7 to 17 have committed to cut lawns for the elderly, the disabled, or anyone in their city in need of the service.
Family, I need your help. Please read. pic.twitter.com/GAh6BKs3Is
— Rodney Smith Jr (@iamrodneysmith) October 27, 2020
The entrepreneur, a native of Bermuda, has lived in the country for the last 15 years with an education visa. Smith recently received his graduate’s degree in social work from Alabama A&M University per KIRO 7.
As he pursues professional work, the social work advocate is having a difficult time gaining access to a green card as his previous bid was denied by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
He wrote his supporters on Wednesday to encourage them that he would continue to fight for residency in the country, but acknowledged that there are mounting obstacles to clear.
"I have followed all of the appropriate and legal protocols, but things have not gone my way. My application for a green card was recently denied by the USCIS. I will continue to fight to earn permanent residency, but my options are limited," he wrote on Twitter.
Smith said his green card was denied because his lawn care work doesn’t demonstrate tremendous talent or add any major significance to the field of social work, according to CNN.
Currently, he has collaborated with youth volunteers to cut more than 70,000 lawns, free of charge, to vulnerable community members, 1011 Now reports.
Smith plans to appeal the decision and is asking his supporters to write letters to the USCIS on his behalf to talk about the value of his initiative.
He said his life’s ambition is to help the people in “the greatest country in the world.”
"I believe what we are doing is very valuable to the field of social work and community service and encouraging kids to get out into the community. I want to continue this work as a legal citizen of the greatest country in the world, and I want to continue to encourage kids," Smith said.
Letters can be mailed to P.O. Box 2182 Madison, Alabama 35758. Smith said the letters will be mailed to immigration services during the appeals process.