RICHLAND HILLS– The interior design at Smith Lawn & Tree is somehow not what you'd expect from a landscape company and yet perfectly fitting for one. It's an open concept, with gorgeous stone floors and rustic wooden installments that make it feel both old fashioned and modern. Russell Simpler, the managing partner here, sits in an equally humble-yet-beautiful office. Whether he recognizes it or not, his space is a reflection of the service his company has provided to 6 Stones for nearly half a decade.
It isn't what one might expect, but it is a perfect fit nonetheless.
“I hadn't really done any community service,” Russell recalls, reaching back to a sermon that asked him how he could impact the community in the fall of 2011. “I'm just a landscaper. What can I do to help out with my church? What can I do to help other people?”
Not content to discount the challenge to serve others, Russell reached out to a community organization birthed from the very church in which he'd heard the call. An organization designed to provide services for people who needed them but couldn't afford them; that helped city residents to renovate and restore their homes and property, including lawns. An organization that, unbeknownst to Russell. had just lost it's primary provider for landscape services. 6 Stones.
“It was an answered prayer for them as well as for myself.”
That year, Smith Lawn and Tree provided expertise and manpower for projects that quite simply would not have happened without their help. They have been doing so ever since. “It was an answered prayer for them as well as for myself, just looking for something to do,” Russell says. It gives him a way to serve God and people with his natural talent and inclinations.
“Christ showed His love for us by dying on the cross,” Russell explains, “and He showed His love for other people by healing them, by giving them whatever they need, both spiritually and physically.” The physical need is impossible to understate.
Looking at the work that happens during the course of multiple Community Powered Revitalization (CPR) events every year, it's hard to imagine anyone ever thinking that Russell and his team would be anything less than a literal Godsend. The program currently serves 6 cities, with over 300 houses renovated in the last five years. Landscaping is almost always part of the process.
“Christ showed His love for us by dying on the cross… and He showed His love other people by healing them, by giving them whatever they need, both spiritually and physically.”
While any volunteer can rake a yard or mow a lawn, the major work required at some of these properties is nothing civilians should attempt on their own. In the span of one half-hour interview, Russell told stories of yards that needed drainage installed, trees removed and new walkways built. The tree removal especially, he emphasized, was a skilled and dangerous service that he and his company were proud to provide. These services get expensive quickly, but Smith Lawn and Tree donates them consistently to homeowners identified through the CPR program.
For Russell and his team, such a gift is no mere throwaway; it's an investment in others and in team unity. “Being able to have some of my guys come and volunteer, put their time in and be involved with a charity like this… they always enjoy meeting up there on a Friday or Saturday or both,” Russell says. “They love the free t-shirt and the breakfast and all that, but they like to get out and actually just work alongside me or some of the other managers here and help these people out… it gives me that chance to appreciate what they do every day.”
Now an immeasurable part of the work we do at 6 Stones, Smith Lawn and Tree provide skill and passion which we connect to a tangible need. Together, we are building a better community, one house — one yard — at a time.
And it all started with a question: “how can I help?”
Just as the office design at Smith Lawn and Tree defied expectation, so too did their ability to make a difference. It was only once they looked closer, once they offered what was thought to be a non-fitting non-factor, that they discovered how vital their offering could be. If you find yourself thinking that you in no way fit into what we do here, consider Russell's closing thoughts.
“There's a need for you somewhere. There's so many things that can be done in that ministry that I don't see how they would turn anyone down or you wouldn't have a skill that they need.”
We'd love to serve with you. How can you help?