When a mother ordered her son to go outside and mow the neighbor's lawn as punishment, she could hardly have expected that she would be helping to start something much bigger.
Barbara Wilson’s 15-year-old son, Travis Durham, enjoyed cutting grass so much that he recruited his two brothers and a cousin to do it for free across Louisville, Kentucky, according to WDRB.
“That's originally how it started. Punishment. And he loved it!” Wilson said.
"[I told him to] go cut a couple of our neighbors' yards, and when I got home, he had cut eight yards, front and back. He loves doing it,” she added.
Wilson and her husband do not even have cars of their own, but work together to drive the teenagers to a new community each morning in their rental vehicles before going to work. One parent then picks them up at lunchtime to move them on to a new area.
“We're doing it for the community, [for] people who can't get out and do it,” Travis added. “And I got my brothers involved because I kind of showed them and told them the good effects.”
Their helping of the community does not always run smoothly, however.
“Because they're young black males, people are a little afraid to open their door,” Wilson said. “They just shut the door, [say], 'No thank you.' They don't even give them a chance to tell them, 'It's free we want to stay out of trouble, we just want to take care of our community’.”
Wilson has promised her sons and nephew a trip to Disney World next summer for their hard work.
The community initiative’s Facebook page is called “It Takes a Village, Together We Stand Strong.”
The teenagers received a sharp increase in donations after the WDRB story was published July 19. From a figure of $1,500 as of July 19, total donations rose to more than $9,000 by the following day.
“We are encouraging people to do this in their own community,” Wilson told WDRB. “If somebody needs some kind of guidance or information on how we got started, contact me and ask me. We can take a whole charter to Disney World to take all the kids involved in this. Not just mine.”
The group also hopes to raise enough money to buy a trailer to store their equipment. Currently, it stays in the basement.
“Maybe we can't change the world, but maybe we can change the people in it,” added Demontae Marshall, a volunteer who'd heard the boys' story and was inspired.