Joshua Smith has taken it upon himself to help his crumbling city, one cup of lemonade at a time. Smith, 9, along with his friend Dwayne Durant, 10, set up a lemonade stand outside Smith’s home on the city’s west side last week, and raised over $3,300 in just five days, the Free Press reports. “I heard the city was in crisis because the city is broke and I was really upset,” Smith said.
The young entrepreneur and his family presented the city with a check for $2,832.64 on Tuesday, with the rest of the money coming through electronic bank transfer later.
Here are five reasons why Smith and Durant are the best kids in America:
1) They don’t settle. Smith originally opened his stand—where he sold organic lemonade, juice, punch, water, and popcorn—with the goal to raise $1,000. He surpassed his goal, so he set a new one: $2,000. By Thursday, he’d made $2,175.64. By Friday’s end, Smith pulled in $3,392.77 of profit, the Free Press reports. Rather than being satisfied by meeting his goal ($1,000 from lemonade sales is no small feat!), he continued to raise the bar for himself and the potential to turn his city around.
2) They’ve inspired the community. Donations have been pouring in, Smith’s mother Rhonda said. Even more, other groups have been inspired by Smith’s efforts and are giving back to his neighborhood. After hearing that Smith was trying to raise money to mow the grass in the nearby parks and fix some of the broken water fountains, a volunteer group called the Detroit Mower Gang helped out by mowing two of the parks close to Smith’s home. The group’s founder, Tom Nardone, told the Free Press that he was impressed by Smith’s thoughtfulness. More proof that positive energy is contagious.
3) Smith’s sale has earned him a scholarship and a Spirit of Detroit Award. Smith will be awarded a $2,000 scholarship from the Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation when he graduates from high school; it’s the first time the award has been given to someone other than a high school senior. Foundation president Delora Hall Tyler said special consideration was given to Smith, because “at such a young age, he is an enterprising civic-minded young man who shares Mrs. Parks’ spirit of service and commitment to building a brighter future in his community.”
Smith was presented with a Spirit of Detroit award last week by Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, in front of a proud crowd of citizens, Navy sailors, and college athletes.
4) He’s even captured the attention of University of Michigan basketball players. On Friday, Smith and Durant were paid a visit by junior forward Jordan Morgan, sophomore guard Trey Burke, and senior guard Corey Person, Yahoo! Sports reports. The three players drove two hours from Ann Arbor to Smith’s house, with autographed t-shirts and hats for the budding entrepreneurs.
“I read the article myself about you were doing out here,” Morgan told the kids. “I called my teammates and we had to come support you.” He added, “It’s going to take more people thinking like you to help this city.”
5) Smith is challenging the idea that a city or a financial crisis can be too far gone. “Seeing the city and the situation that we’re in, you hear a lot of people just complain about what’s going on here,” Morgan told the Free Press. “But it takes a collective effort to want to change it.” It’s easy to bemoan the inefficiency and bureaucracy of government, to throw our hands up in the air and accept that “that’s just the way it is.” If a 9-year-old can think of concrete ways to help make a city like Detroit function better, there’s hope yet.