Deb Malewski
Contributing Writer

Josiah Spooner, from Potterville, isn’t your “average” 13-year-old boy.  That’s probably why the Raising Men Lawn Care Service challenge interested him. People kept sending links to the program to his mother, Karen Spooner, knowing that she wanted him to get into some kind of community service this summer and that he was the kind of young man who would take the challenge and run with it. They were right.
Josiah signed up online last summer for the Raising Men Lawn Care Service, a non-profit program founded in 2015 in Huntsville, Alabama, by Rodney Smith, Jr. The program encourages young men and women, ages 7 to 17, to mow lawns for people who need help, illustrating to them the importance of giving back to their community. The goal is to keep youth on the positive side of things, to raise men and women to be leaders in our communities through service to others.
“Sometimes youth want to help their community and people need the help, but it can be hard to know who, why, and when,” Smith said. So he created this challenge to encourage children to help their communities.
Josiah just recently fulfilled his commitment to the program and to his community. The commitment? To mow (for free) 50 lawns for the elderly, the disabled, single parents, and veterans; people who don’t have the time, the resources, and/or the money to take care of their yards. By completing the challenge, Josiah will receive a new lawn mower, a weed eater, and a blower, AND a visit from Mr. Smith.
For every ten lawns he mowed, he received a different color of T-shirt, the color signifying his progress. There are currently almost 3,800 children who have accepted the 50 Yard Challenge, including children in eight countries around the world.
“I’m just one of those people that enjoys helping people, helping my neighbors,” he explained. He is in 8th grade in home school and plans to go into the ministry in the future. In his free time, he enjoys creating with Legos.
Josiah’s five siblings have always done community service projects. “When they hit their teens, they tend to get a little self-centered if you don’t do something to keep them in check,” his mother explained.
Of course, a lot of the responsibility falls on her, too. She is the one who posts on Facebook to find people who need their lawns mowed, transports Josiah to the lawns, buys the gas for the mower, and photographs his work before, during, and afterward as proof for the program. Her commitment to her son’s success was strong.
In 2021, Josiah mowed a lot of lawns in his own neighborhood, and this year Josiah focused on lawns in Independence Commons, a manufactured housing community in Potterville. He often helped with landscaping and gardening, too.
For more information about the program visit