By Nathalie Friedman
Do you remember when you got your first lawnmower? Nine-year-old Jordan Gale of Sag Harbor, who is completing the Raising Men Lawn Care Service’s 50-Yard Challenge certainly does.
Sara Gale, Jordan’s mother, came across Raising Men on Instagram, and thought it seemed very fun and interesting, especially because everyone is stuck at home during the quarantine.
“I am a home-schooling parent to begin with,” she said, “so I try to get my kids out in the community as much as possible.”
Ms. Gale joked that all she had to say was the word “lawnmower,” and mention community service, and Jordan was all about the idea.
Raising Men Lawn Care inspires youth to give back to their community by tending to the lawns of veterans, the elderly, the disabled, and even single mothers, according to its mission statement. Girls and boys ages 7 to 17 are encouraged to offer services such as mowing lawns, shoveling snow, raking leaves and more, free of charge.
Getting involved is simple, Ms. Gale explained. According to the Raising Men website, it all begins by an interested kid sending the organization a picture of themselves holding a sign that reads “I accept the 50 Yard Challenge.”
Participants will then be sent a white shirt, shades, and ear protection. Every time they mow 10 lawns, they will “level up” and receive a brand-new shirt, highlighting their experience and commitment to helping others.
Completing 10 lawns earns children an orange shirt, 20 earns them a green one, 30 a blue one, and 40 a red one. Finally, those who complete 50 lawns will receive a black shirt, and will get to meet the company’s founder, Rodney A. Smith Jr.
“Rodney posts pictures of each kid who accepts the challenge on Instagram,” Ms. Gale said. “He’s all about the kids, pushing them and motivating them. I think it’s so important for the young kids in our area to feel like they have a purpose, and are appreciated.”
She is glad that her son is “getting out there,” meeting new people, and doing something productive, she said.
“I like helping the community,” Jordan announced many times as he discussed his experience with Raising Men. He has completed five yards for local teachers, and hopes that by spreading the word about Raising Men, more people around him will know about his services.
Mr. Smith has children working with Raising Men in all 50 states, and two who are located in Long Island, Ms. Gale explained. However, the Gale family is eager to boost Jordan’s outreach and help even more Long Island residents by informing them about the program.
Raising Men is amazing, Ms. Gale and her son both agreed — but veterans, single parents, and the elderly or disabled populations of Long Island may not know about the cost-free services available to them. Although Ms. Gale has been posting on social media and asking her friends to do the same, the duo wants to contact even more people.
“I want to raise good kids, who can go out and help others, without expecting anything monetary in return,” Ms. Gale concluded.
“Being a single parent who was raised by a single parent, I know how a small act of kindness like this can really change someone’s day and week,” she said. “I hope to teach my son the great values of helping those who may not be able to help themselves, or who could really use a break. I want him to complete this challenge and build his confidence knowing he made a difference in so many lives. It would be great for him and for the community, especially in times like these.”
Ms. Gale has created an email account, firstname.lastname@example.org, for anyone who meets Raising Men’s criteria and would like to arrange Jordan’s services, or those who have questions about the program itself.