He’s traveled the United States nine times helping others take care of a simple need, but now his ability to stay in the country is in jeopardy.
Rodney Smith Jr., lives in Huntsville, Alabama, and is known for his lawn mowing business that helps veterans and other vulnerable members of the community for free. He started Raising Men Lawn Care Service, a foundation that provides free lawn care to those who need help and seeks to inspire young men and women to make a difference and give back to their communities.
Smith travels all over the country on “tours” that may have a specific theme or aim to serve a certain group of people. Last June he finished a tour for veterans, and since then he has also mowed lawns in all 50 states for police officers and breast cancer survivors.
Smith has also started the “50 Yard Challenge,” encouraging children around the world to get out and help their community.
More than 1,300 kids ages 7 to 17 have pledged to cut lawns for the elderly, the disabled, single parents, veterans or anyone in need of help in their town, he says. Those who take part get different colors of T-shirts based on how far they get in the challenge.
Though Smith has focused on helping people across the United States, he was actually born in Bermuda and legally came to the States about 15 years ago.
He received his high school diploma and his college education in social work while in the United States and says he feels like an American.
However, on Tuesday, Smith posted some disappointing news to his Twitter account.
“I have followed all of the appropriate and legal protocols, but things have not gone my way. My application for a green card was recently denied by the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services). I will continue to fight to earn permanent residency, but my options are limited,” he wrote.
His supporters and those who have been following him on social media rallied around him after he posted the message. It has been retweeted more than 8,000 times and several immigration attorneys have reached out to Smith to offer their help.
Smith told CNN he has been touched by the show of support.
“It means people value the organization, and I’m just hoping for a positive outcome,” he said.
According to Smith, his first application for a green card was denied, so he applied for an EB-1 visa — but the denial letter stated his work was not unique or extraordinary enough for his field of social work to allow him to be approved.
Smith said he is planning to appeal the decision and is asking anyone who supports his organization to write letters on his behalf.
His greatest wish, he says, is to be able to carry on doing what he loves most — helping others.
“I believe what we are doing is very valuable to the field of social work and community service, and encouraging kids to get out into the community,” Smith said.
“I want to continue this work as a legal citizen of the greatest country in the world, and I want to continue to encourage kids.”