Local boy mows lawns for vets, elderly, single mothers
ALPENA — Most 12-year-old boys play outside with friends, fish or lounge around the house while on summer vacation.
Wesley Elliott does those things, but is also doing something many boys his age don’t — volunteering to help others.
Elliott is taking part in the Raising Men Lawn Care Services, which was started by Rodney Smith Jr. in Alabama. Smith was on his way home from school and saw an elderly man struggling to mow his lawn and stopped to help.
Smith started the program that provides free lawn care to elders, those who are disabled, single mothers, and veterans who do not have the time, resources and/or money to manicure their yards. Elliott decided he wanted to take part as a way to help those around him in Alpena who may have a hard time keeping their yards trimmed. His goal is to mow 50 lawns, for free before May 2018.
“I decided to join this effort because not a lot of kids I know would step up and help the elderly, disabled, veterans and single mothers,” Elliott said.
If he is able to meet his goal of 50 lawns, Elliott will get an opportunity to meet Smith, who will give him a new lawnmower and assist him in cutting a few lawns in Alpena.
“He will basically hang out with me for a day and I think that would be very cool,” he said.
Wesley’s mother, Kristi Namyslowski, and step-father, Leo Namyslowski, said they are proud of their son and have seen a positive change in his behavior and the way he views others. His mother is in charge of taking calls and scheduling mowings, while Leo goes to the job and assists in the yard maintenance effort by doing edging and weed whacking.
“I’m incredibly proud,” Kristi said.
Wesley said he has met some people who he likely would have never been introduced to if not for the Raising Men Lawn Care Services effort. Among them is a World War II veteran he has become friends with. Leo said the interactions are just as beneficial to Wesley as they are for the person he is helping.
“It makes me happy and proud to know he is helping these people and some have become attached to Wesley,” Leo said. “The vets seem to love this boy and even asked him to mow the lawn at Little Flanders Field.”
Besides cutting lawns, Wesley said raking leaves and shoveling snow also count toward his goal and he is always looking for more people to help. He also is a volunteer for Alpena Youth Volunteer Corps and its many initiatives and projects. Kristi said she will continue to encourage her son to volunteer, but did put a limit on how much he could do this summer.
“I wanted to make sure he would have off this summer before school started, but he will be back at it pretty soon,” she said.
People wishing to have Wesley cut their lawn can contact Kristi Namyslowski at 517-458-4184 to set up a time.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.