Cops were called on him — for mowing a lawn. Now his business is booming.

On June 23, Lucille Holt spotted a boy named Reggie and his siblings outside a dollar store with lawn care equipment.

"To see him with everything, to be that equipped, it caught my attention," the 51-year-old told BuzzFeed News.

She asked Reggie and his siblings if they'd be interested in mowing her lawn in Maple Heights, Ohio, just south of Cleveland. They agreed.

Reggie and his little brother. All photos courtesy of Mr. Reggie's Lawn Cutting Service.


So impressed by their work ethic, Holt took a video of them from her front door. In it, she commented that "he's struggling a little" as Reggie pushed the mower over a bump in the grass. "But he's doing his thing." That's when things took a turn.

A neighbor saw Reggie and his siblings in action. And she called the police.

The neighbor, a white woman, had been concerned the kids were trespassing on her property.

"Who does that?" Holt is heard saying in another video she recorded after the police arrived, claiming the neighbor once called the police because her kids were throwing snowballs. “Who calls the police for everything?

White people, apparently.

The incident in Maple Heights is just the latest in a string of stories documenting white people calling the police on black people for doing mundane things. In June, "Permit Patty" called the cops on an 8-year-old black girl for selling water outside her apartment building. Earlier this spring, "BBQ Becky" reported a group of black people lawfully having a cookout in a public park. In April, a Philadelphia Starbucks employee infamously called the police on two black men for visiting the store without immediately purchasing any food or drinks.

(White people, we seriously need to get it together.)

Similarly to these other incidents, Reggie's story started spreading far and wide. And lots of people were outraged.

Reggie's mom shared Holt's video on Facebook, adding that "this is what happens when your kids are doing positive things in Maple [Heights]. The police show up."

Fortunately, plenty of people in Ohio — and across the country — turned that outrage into positive action.

Knowing Reggie had wanted to expand his lawn-cutting business, Holt launched a GoFundme page.

It started with just a $1,000 goal for Reggie to get a shed to store his equipment and to buy other lawn supplies. But since its launch, more than $37,000 has been raised.

The comment section, by the way, is pure delight.

"What an amazing young man!" one supporter wrote. "You’re an inspiration! Good luck."

"Please don't let small-minded, petty people ruin your spirit," a supporter noted. "You are a good kid with a good work ethic and a bright future. You can help change the world for the better."

"Way to go kiddos!!!!!" another chimed in. "Don't let anyone or anything ever get into the way of your dreams!!!"

The funds are helping transform Mr. Reggie's Lawn Cutting Service into a flourishing business serving the Cleveland area.

The business' Facebook page is filled with glowing reviews, videos of Reggie and his siblings putting in the work, and before-and-after shots of the lawns Reggie's mowed.

"I'm so very proud of my son," Reggie's mom told Fox 13 News. "I think it is so amazing how everyone is so supportive from all over the country."

A Maple Heights police officer visited Reggie to congratulate him on his business success.

She said all the support has inspired Reggie to dream bigger — once focused solely on mowing grass, the 12-year-old now hopes to expand his business to include raking leaves in the fall and snow-blowing during winter.

Reggie says he wants to turn all this positivity into actual results.

"I just want to thank everyone for all the kind words and all the support," he says. "It really makes me want to succeed."

Learn more about Mr. Reggie's Lawn Cutting Service on Facebook.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Photo by Tod Perry

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