Friday, January 15, 2021
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The 50-Yard Challenge

In my mind I can still picture my husband’s 85-year old grandfather pulling on his lawn mower cord in Westbrook, CT  It would take a him several times to get the mower started and I wondered how he had the energy to mow the lawn after that, yet he insisted.  It would take him a full three days to get the job done, but he was a proud and determined man and he wanted to do it.

When we are young, we don’t often think about the difficulty others may have in their daily lives.  We take for granted the skills we have to manage things like mowing, raking, and shoveling snow from our walkways.  While it may take time, most have the strength, tools, and energy to do the work. Many however do not.  The elderly, the handicapped, those without time, money, or resources to care for their properties can be found in every community.  They might be living quietly in that house you drive by every day on your way to work. You know, the yard which looks untidy, the one you think needs some TLC.

There is an expression “for every problem, there is a solution,” but you have to “see” the problem in order to find inspiration on how to “fix” it.

That is exactly what Rodney Smith did.  He spotted a man having difficulty caring for his lawn.  Rather than drive on by however, Rodney pulled over and took the time to lend a hand.

That gesture became the seed of inspiration for Raising Men Lawn Care Service – Making a Difference One Lawn at A Time

“Raising Men Lawn Care Service is designed to promote awareness for the youth of the future. It is a platform where the younger members of the community can give back to the community. This includes veterans, the elderly, the  disabled and even single mothers. They get the chance to offer services such as mowing lawns, shoveling snow, raking leaves and more, free of charge. The youths who we work with are able to experience a great sense of achievement while also developing their social skills and lawn care experience.” (

Children nationwide have been challenged to mow 50 lawns in their community for free.  When they sign up for the challenge, they are given a white shirt with the  Raising Men logo, sunglasses, and ear protection. Participants receive a different color shirt for every 10th lawn they mow, and when they meet the goal of mowing 50 yards, they are rewarded with a new lawn mower.

When Samantha Merwin learned of the 50-Yard challenge, she told her son, Logan about it.

“For Logan, he’s been helping our neighbors, the Reynolds with their lawn for a while, when a friend shared the program on Facebook I showed him and he was really excited about the possibility of getting his own mower!  He has done a few lawns, but the person [whose lawn he is mowing] needs to have their own lawn mower. Since he doesn’t have one yet, [it] slows him down.  He is mowing for free for elderly, disabled, seniors or single moms in our area. In the fall he can do leaf raking and that counts as well. In the winter it’s snow shoveling too but typically that won’t work due to school timing.”

Logan mowing lawn of former neighbor Dorothy Luhn.

Photo by Doug Merwin

In an attempt to see just how Logan is handling his “50 Yard Challenge” I posed some questions which he promptly answered.

Q: What made you take an interest in doing yard work for people in need of help?

A: It feels good helping people who need it and I like doing yard work.

Q: What is your favorite part of the experience?

A: My favorite part is seeing them smile at the end.

Q: Do you have a plan for the future, i.e. perhaps starting a business when you are of age?

A: Maybe. Right now, my plan is to be a Hot Wheels Designer like Larry Wood and go into automotive design, but I may start a lawn mowing business to make extra money.

Q: How many people have asked for your help?

A: I have had 4 people ask other than my neighbor, but I also mow for my next-door neighbor all the time before this started as well to help them out for free. I started late during the summer so hoping to get more people for spring and summer next year.

Q: What tools are you in need of to help you with your work?

A: I need a lawnmower as I’m currently using whatever the homeowners have which has limited my ability to help people that don’t have a lawnmower. So, it’s hard because until I reach 50 lawns, I don’t get the free lawn mower but it’s hard to get to the 50 lawns without it!

Q: How can interested people contact you when they need help?

A: They can contact my email,

With 5-yards down, Logan has 45 more to go to get that free lawn mower.

Raking yards and shoveling snow can also count towards his goal.

Spring will be here before we know it, so my hope is that the next time you drive past that house that needs some TLC, you might mention that there is someone here in Haddam who is willing to be of help.

Let’s spread the word and help Logan meet his goal!

Sharon Challenger
I am a professional Scenic Artist and have also worked as a Systems Analyst and Senior Programmer Analyst for the Travelers and Yale University. Education: Post University, Wesleyan University and Yale University School of Drama.
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