York entrepreneur finds himself cut out for both mowing and motivating
- After failing out of college, serving a prison sentence, and losing his brother, Tavon Parker found the motivation to rewrite his story, re-commit to his lawn business, and help other York City teens do the same.
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Tavon Parker was an entrepreneur long before he knew what it even meant.
At 14, he earned enough money cutting lawns that he bought a truck and had his older brothers drive it for him. He later earned a full scholarship to Millersville University to pursue a business degree.
Then things started to slip. He struggled academically and failed his classes, losing his scholarship after just two years.
He came back home to York, but instead of picking up the mower again, he started selling drugs. The street offered him a life he didn’t think he could get otherwise.
On Feb. 14, 2017 – a date his wife never lets him forget – Parker was arrested and served the next 14 months in a Camp Hill state prison.
Sharing his story
After being granted early release, he was motivated to get back to his wife and new baby girl.
“I came home ready to change my life,” he says. “I wasn’t going to do that to my family again.”
Parker re-committed to working on his lawn business, and Tavon’s Lawn Care became his full-time job and passion. While business has been good, his mission and purpose came into view in early 2020.
On Feb. 26, his brother, Willie Hicks, was involved in a barbershop robbery with two other accomplices. He was shot multiple times and found by police in the back of the barbershop.
“When he was killed, it made me want to take ownership of trying to motivate people to change their lives,” Parker says. “I felt that I had a story to share, and someone needed to hear it. Someone needed my help.”
Mr. Motivation is born
Most mornings, Parker dances in front of the camera or jogs across the screen to deliver one of his messages of hope. He calls himself “Mr. Motivation.”
What he shares is to the point: take control of where you’re going in life; change your trajectory; work hard for something more.
He wants to drive these things into the young people he sees heading down a road he was once on.
He also creates opportunities for them, offering many a chance to earn honest money working in his lawn care business.
It’s led him to launch his nonprofit, The Advantage Program, which aims to show young people in York there’s life beyond the streets and neighborhoods familiar to them. He recently took some on a trip to visit the historic district in Philadelphia.
He knows it’s working when kids with nothing to do call him to see if they can mow or pick up a few hours. And while they work, he talks to them. He hears them out. He pushes them to be better.
“They just need to know somebody supports them,” he says. “I know they can do amazing things. They can be great people. I’m going to see to it.”