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Mebane teen mows yards for free for people in need


Rachel Berry   | Times-News

MEBANE — Adrienne Griffin-Frazier is a single mom and had been struggling since the coronavirus hit. She had to let her usual lawn care provider go and had planned to mow herself but had been struggling to find the time.

Then a friend connected her with Richard Hurst and his mom, MaryAnn Lang.

Richard was mowing yards for free for single moms, disabled people, the elderly, and military and law enforcement families through a program with Raising Men Lawn Care Service. The nonprofit encourages children 7–17 to sign a promise to mow 50 yards for free for those in need in their community.

Griffin-Frazier’s home was Richard’s 50th. She said she was worried about whether it would be too much since her yard is double or triple the size of a typical one. Richard could handle it, though, and Griffin-Frazier said she was impressed with his workmanship and how seriously he took the task.

She was so impressed that she hopes to pay him to come back and mow her yard once she goes back to work. She has a 14-year-old son of her own, whom she wants to introduce to Richard.

“We made a friend in the community, and that's what it's all about. You give back to the community,” Griffin-Frazier said. “I think he's gonna do great things, and I'm gonna keep an eye on him and be part of it.”

How it started

Last year, Lang saw a post on Facebook about the 50-yard challenge and showed it to her son. At that point, he had never mowed a yard before, but he decided to try it.

Lang would post in community Facebook groups to find people who fit the criteria of the challenge and needed their yards mowed. Almost all of the people Richard helped were in Mebane, where he lives.

After starting the challenge, some days were harder than others, but he kept pushing forward to his goal. Richard said he liked the 50-yard challenge because it allowed him to help people.

It “spread positivity in this bad time in the world,” Richard said.

Lang has noticed a change in her son in the year he’s been doing the challenge. He’s grown up a lot, and it’s helped him connect with the community.

“I was really impressed with him,” said Jen Dallas, one of the people Richard mowed for. “It was just amazing to see his passion for it, and I was just so impressed the young man was wanting to help and give back to people.”

Although he had never mowed a yard before he started, Richard has fallen in love with it and now wants to be a landscaper when he grows up. He hopes to start his own business and begin charging money, although he still plans to cut yards for free for those who need it.

The award

On Sunday, July 26, exactly one year since Richard began the 50-yard challenge, Rodney Smith, the founder of Raising Men Lawn Care Service, came to his Mebane home to give him an award for completing the program.

Richard stood next to his driveway, surrounded by a crowd of his family and friends, as Smith handed him a framed certificate and a new lawn mower, trimmer and leaf blower.

Smith drove from his home in Huntsville, Ala., to give Richard the gifts and congratulate him for completing the challenge. Smith drives all over the country when kids finish the challenge and gives them lawn equipment, which is all paid for with donations. Smith said he now has around 1,200 people enrolled in the challenge from all 50 states and eight countries.

“He worked hard,” Smith said of Richard. “A lot of kids might sign up, and they might never get it done, so that’s a big accomplishment to mow 50 free lawns in his community.”