A 14-year-old boy from Cayce, South Carolina, just started his own lawn care business to help cover the adoption legal fees his stepfather needs to adopt him and his big brother.
Tyce Pender says Eric Jenkins, 36, has been a father figure to him since he was two years old. He started dating his mom Marcy in 2010 and proposed to her four years later.
“He’s always been there for us and helps me with anything I need like homework,” Tyce said.
Two years after the couple married, they discussed the possibility of Eric adopting Tyce and his older brother, Tylee, 15. Luckily, they were able to hire a lawyer willing to work on the case pro bono.
Despite their good fortune in finding such a lawyer, other estimated adoption legal fees will require the family to spend several thousand dollars.
But the brothers and their stepsister Tierrianna, 14, wanted their parents to legalize an adoption.
“This is important because Eric teaches me respect, independence and what a man is supposed to be,” Tyce explained. “If anything ever happens to my mom, Eric is who I’d want to live with.”
Knowing that court is expensive, Tyce wanted to help his parents pay for the adoption.
The teen remembered that his brother, Jayden, 21, used to mow lawns as a kid to make money during the summer.
Tyce thought he could do the same, but he had only used a lawnmower once when he cut his grandmother’s grass. But he says he has seen other people do it.
Eric was touched upon learning about Tyce’s plans to contribute.
“Caring for Tyce is my job,” he said. “His heart is in the right place.”
“I’m glad that he wanted to do this and even if he really doesn’t make anything it’s good for him… We’re very proud of Tyce and he tries really hard and he’s got so many goals,” Marcy said.
Last month, Marcy bought him a $192 battery-powered lawnmower. The teen then advertised Tyce & Company Lawn Service on Facebook.
“Hi my name is Tyce,” he wrote in the post. “I am 14 years old and today my mom gave me a business loan and I was able to purchase a rechargeable lawn mower. I do have safety glasses and gloves and I am hoping to find some yards to cut and maybe even maintain them.”
Tyce also mentioned he had an electric leaf blower and a rake and that he was available some afternoons during school days and all day on weekends.
Soon after, Tyce got his first customer—a woman named Sarah Larrabee in West Columbia.
Marcy dropped Tyce off at the address and waited in the car for him to finish.
“At first, I was pretty intimated,” he recalled. “But her yard wasn’t that big.”
After one hour, Tyce finished his first project.
“It went so well, he was such a sweet kid, so polite and like, just so happy to be there and excited to have his first job, and it was just so sweet,” Sarah said about Tyce’s service.
So far, Tyce has cut about 16 yards, earning $400 after working after school and on weekends. He doesn’t have an official price list yet and just negotiates with clients on a fair fee.
He plans to run his lawn care business until he graduates high school.
Although they have Tyce contributing, Eric said that he and Marcy will cover most of the adoption costs.
“I’m extremely proud of Tyce,” he said. “He’s a good kid.”
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