By Matthew Antkowiak and Friends
TRUSSVILLE — The cancellation of summer activities during this time of COVID-19 has challenged most Americans to be more creative in their quest for social engagement despite requirements for social distancing. Some folks might be tackling home projects that have been languishing on the back burner for years but what if you’re a teenage boy?
How about doing something for someone else for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do? There’s no anticipation of being paid, the driving force is simply helping your neighbor.
That’s exactly what a group of Hewitt Trussville High School boys decided to do when they began providing free lawn care to seniors in need.
Matthew Antkowiak came up with the idea. He realized last year when he sent out fliers about his lawn care service that a lot of seniors were desperately needing the service but were on a really tight budget. This year, he rounded up a group of his friends and pitched the idea of offering the service for free. Without hesitation, they jumped at the idea – quickly volunteering the use of their trucks, yard tools, whatever they had. While some may be surprised at the boys’ eagerness to help, Antkowiak wasn’t surprised at all that friends like Kent Glover were ready to help others.
“I knew that these were all great guys with big hearts,” Kent Glover said. “And they weren’t the type of guys to shy away from hard work. Every guy out here has the same goal: help the community and build others up, which is amazing to see in high school guys!”
They decided to call the organization FLC (Free Lawn Care) and offer services to seniors in need and people with physical disabilities.
All it took was a simple post on What’s Happening In Trussville to get the ball rolling. People started calling from all over. Some were calling because they needed help and some were calling because they knew someone that needed help. It’s only been a few weeks since the group was founded and FLC has already assisted more than 25 people in the surrounding areas. And not just with the grass cutting.
According to Wil Edwards, “The group has cleared underbrush, moved furniture, cleaned out garden sheds, put down mulch, and even shingled a shed roof.” He went on to add, “We try to help with just about anything we can.” When asked if all this work was worth it, he quoted Romans 8:18.
FLC currently consists of eight Hewitt Trussville High School Boys, all on the Cross Country Team. They are all quick to give credit to their coach, David Dobbs, for instilling in them the importance of community service.
“Coach Dobbs is always asking us to help with things like The Mercedes Marathon and The Firehouse Shelter,” Antkowiak said. “And we’re always happy to help but we also wanted to create our own organization. We wanted to leave OUR mark on the community. The hope is that every year, underclassmen on the team will step up and lead the organization.”
“Running FLC is an incredible learning experience for us,” said Eli Williamson. “You have to quickly learn to deal with all kinds of people, find out their needs, schedule the jobs, decide how many guys are needed for each job, buy equipment, maintain equipment. It’s been a lot of work but we’re enjoying it. This is an experience we’ll remember for a long time.”
The community support has been overwhelming. So far, FLC has received numerous donations including a lawnmower, gas trimmer, gas blower, edger and there have been cash donations to help with expenses.
According to Eli Muncher, “The best part of this whole thing is the relationships that are being built. One lady from Birmingham even said she wanted to come to one of our Cross Country meets.”
Paul Copus added, “We’ve had so many eye-opening experiences sharing the love of Christ with our own community. I’m optimistic that what we’re doing can inspire others to do the same.”
If you need assistance or want to find out more about FLC, call 205-718-0841 or you can visit their Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/freelawncaretrussville/.