True Community Service
It’s relatively accurate to say that Allstate agent Kyle Henderson spontaneously volunteers.
Henderson led a few volunteers Monday evening to mow an elderly person’s backyard so that person could be approved for assisted living.
“It was a much larger project than I anticipated,” he said. “The grass was six feet tall.”
It had also rained right before they started mowing, so the grass was bent over and wet.
Four other volunteers joined Henderson to help with the yardwork.
Originally, it was just going to be him, a boy scout and the scout’s mother, but Henderson didn’t have a way to transport his lawn mower to the house on Taylor Street, so he posted on Facebook that he needed a mower, and one person responded. Another person saw the post too and brought over a weedeater.
“They just showed up with all this stuff on a trailer out of nowhere,” he said. “I’m glad other people showed up because if they hadn’t, I’d still be out there trying to get it done.”
When the five finished the yard after two-and-a-half hours, there were eight trash bags full of grass. They had to cross-mow the yard three times to get it all.
“It looks like a brand new yard,” he said.
Henderson started volunteer projects like this one a few months ago. He finds volunteer work on Facebook, but other people come to him with ideas too.
“It all started with me seeing something on Facebook, with the elderly occupants of the apartments over on Elm, complaining that nobody was taking care of the garden over there,” he said.
The garden is a community garden that grows food, and anyone from the community can take from it.
“So I just went over there on a Saturday – it was probably like the worst Saturday of the year because it was 100 degrees – I went over there and mowed it and weedeated it and got it to where the plants could actually grow,” he continued.
Henderson also handed out Indiana Pacers tickets to honor roll students, gave out tickets to TNT Exotics to his customers, donated cases of bottled water to the Meridian Park Family Aquatic Center, and helped a girl scout troop sell cookies.
“The girl scout thing was somewhat of a project I guess,” he said.
A girl scout troop set up a cookie stand in front of Henderson’s office on the Public Square back in March. Henderson bought $200 worth of cookies and then helped the girls hand them out for free.
“My mind works like a business person, not a girl scout, so I was like okay, if I buy x amount of cookies and go hand them out with the girls and then I ask people for donations, then they’ll do it,” he said.
The troop received more money from donations than what they would have made selling boxes of cookies.
“We raised the most money out of any troop in town that day, so that was awesome,” he said.
Henderson said he enjoys volunteer work because it helps him to help other people.
“I just go out and do things for people because it soothes my soul,” he said.
Since he started publicizing what he does on social media, more people have offered to help him.
“People still want to help,” he said. “As much as they want to gripe about how things haven’t changed, they care and they still want to come out. I got a guy asking me, he’s like, ‘I have access to tools and machines and all kinds of things. If you do this again let me know.’”
Henderson is aiming to recruit kids who need community service hours to help with his volunteer work. He said he reached out to youth groups in the area to see if they can help and what their community service requirements are.
“If a kid is willing to help, I think it teaches them the right things, that giving back is the right thing to do,” he said. “I don’t think that there’s a better thing that you can do than show a kid, and lead them by example, that, ‘Hey, when you grow up this is what other adults do and other adults need help. You help them when you can.’”
Some of his projects, like giving out tickets, acts as a reward for good behavior, he said.
“I really don’t think it can hurt anybody to do something good for a kid,” he said. “If you help a kid, good things will come back around to you.”
Fourteen-year-old Dakota Moore helped Henderson clean up the yard Monday evening. Moore is a boy scout and needed the hours to help him get a merit badge.
“He was really excited to do this,” Henderson said. “He showed up and had gloves, he had earplugs in, he was ready to go. I was really happy with him. We showed him a few tricks to do things.”
Moore, who is in troop 250, has been a boy scout for four years.
“A boy scout is someone who helps people and ranks up and learns something while doing that,” Moore said.
Moore’s service with Henderson also contributes toward the service hours he needs to rank up from second class to first class.
Moore’s mom saw Henderson’s post online about needing help to mow, and reached out to Henderson so Moore could help. His mom also helped with the yard.
“We let him mow the front yard, so he push-mowed the front yard,” Henderson said. “He wanted to mow the backyard, but I didn’t want to take a chance on him hitting something back there, because you can’t see the ground.”
So Moore raked and bagged grass in the backyard. He said it was physically tiring because he was repeatedly bending over to pick up the grass and standing back up to put it in a trash bag.
“The front was not that bad,” Moore said. “And then we went to the back and I just was speechless. I was like, ‘We gotta get on this.’”
Henderson showed Moore a way to help him bag grass using a rake. Moore said the tip was a big help. Moore said that the rain made the grass clump together, and that it was hard to bag grass because the grass would stay stuck to the ground.
Moore said he decided to help Henderson because likes to mow lawns and wants to learn how to properly mow and weedeat.
“I was possibly thinking about buying a mower and going around and charging $5 to mow lawns and stuff,” Moore said. “Starting a small [business] and working up from there.”
Moore said he likes volunteering because he likes helping people and wants to be more social.
“I need the hours and mainly I like to help people and want to be more social, meet new people and be outside more, because I’m always playing video games,” he said.
When they finished the yard, Henderson bought Moore a pepperoni pizza.
Henderson said he isn’t sure yet what his next project is going to be, but he is planning on doing more volunteer work. He said he’s thinking about starting a non-profit, but isn’t certain about that yet.
“I’m just going to keep on doing what I’m doing,” he said.