AUSTIN, Texas - Young Austinite Tristan Lackovich is making an impact in his community through mowing lawns. "I was just like living my own life one day my dad found Raising Men Lawn Care on social media," he says.
Raising Men Lawn Care Service is a non-profit organization founded in 2016 by Rodney Smith Jr. from Alabama.
In 2015, while walking home from school, Smith Jr. says he witnessed an elderly man who looked like he was struggling with mowing his lawn. He took it upon himself to stop and offer help. That same day, he decided to mow lawns for the elderly, disabled, single moms, and veterans.
That following year, he began what is now Raising Men and Women Lawn Care Service and issued his 50 Yard Challenge to kids to teach them the importance of giving back and serving their community.
The 50 Yard Challenge is open to all kids between the ages of 7-17. The goal is to mow 50 free lawns for homeowners who are elderly, disabled, single mothers, and or veterans.
"To date, we have over 2,000 kids nationwide taking part in our organization through our 50 Yard Challenge," Smith Jr. shares.
The mission of the non-profit is to help focus youth’s energy into positive actions for those who need help the most.
Joel Lackovich, Tristan's dad, heard about RMWLCS and thought it would be a great opportunity for his son as he was around Tristan’s age when he began volunteering. "With everything going on in the world this was an opportunity for him to make an impact in his community."
Tristan Lackovich poses next to a lawnmower. (Photo courtesy Joel Lackovich)
Tristan had never mowed a lawn before starting the challenge but he says he's sure his skills have improved since and he loves it now. His favorite part of the whole process has been seeing the smile on people’s faces after he's done and knowing he's helping people who needed help.
Mowing 50 lawns isn’t an easy task at all, but Tristan pushed through. Sometimes he would complain to his dad saying, "I’m tired dad. I don’t want to do it. I’m like do we have to do four today. And then I ended up completing it and I’m just like I’m glad I did that I feel like that really helped my self-esteem and how I feel about myself in the world."
Smith Jr. believes the most rewarding moments for him are when kids complete mowing 50 lawns. "It takes a special kid to really stay dedicated and work through the difficulties of the 50 Yard Challenge."
Tristan began mowing his lawns in June 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its height. His mom, Tracey Lackovich, says she was happy her husband was able to get Tristan helping the community especially when everyone was restricted to their homes and the world seemingly falling apart.
Tristan Lackovich poses after completing work in someone's yard.(Photo courtesy Joel Lackovich)
Even though Tristan couldn’t interact with many of the people’s lawns he’s mowed, they still showed their appreciation for his actions. Tracey recalls Tristan coming home with an old vintage bike that an elderly couple gave him after he serviced their yard.
"They’re always offering to pay Tristan for the service that he’s doing but he does not want it," Tracey shares. "To see how impactful it’s been for him has been beautiful. I’m very grateful that my husband took the effort made the effort to do some sort of give back in a positive way that’s impacted my whole family and many others,"
This experience has inspired Tristan to think about starting his own lawn care service called "Tristan's Lawn and Care Service."
Tristan’s future endeavor could soon be made possible. As part of completing the 50 Yard Challenge, Smith Jr. travels to where the kids who complete the challenge are, cuts a few lawns with them, and gives them a brand new lawnmower, weed eater, and blower.
Smith Jr. says he never would’ve thought Raising Men and Women Lawn Care Service would be where it is today. "The big goal of the organization is just to keep growing it. I would like to have chapters of organizations one day in all different and different states."
Joel is grateful for the organization’s positive effect on Tristan and being a great way to have father-son bonding time. He believes it’s a great way for kids to help those in need in their community.
"If more children could sign up underneath the organization in the Austin area, we could mow a lot more lawns and definitely reach more people in need," he comments.
Tristan Lackovich mows a lawn. (Photo courtesy Joel Lackovich)
The good thing is, Tristan doesn’t plan on stopping mowing lawns any time soon.
"I have loved mowing so much and I love it and I’m not going to stop probably for a while and I’m so happy that I’m doing something that can impact the world in a good way and giving back to the community," Tristan says.
Tristan says his brother is taking on the 50 Yard Challenge and Tristan says he plans on helping his brother while also setting a new goal for himself: 100 yards.