FMO seeks to emulate early church
John Hicks FCT Staff Writer
Three and a half years ago, Matthew Mangino was minister of youth at Faith Tabernacle Church in Florence when he received the call to return to his hometown of Russellville and shelter and feed those in need.
The ministry he established, Faith Mission Outreach, is a non-denominational, all-volunteer operation that last year distributed over $100,000 worth of food in the Franklin County area.
"We see people from Phil Campbell, Red Bay, Vina and Lawrence County," said Mangino. "We even have a few who drive over from Mississippi."
FMO relies on donations of money, food, clothing, school supplies, furniture and other items. These donations come from businesses, churches and individuals.
Nothing is for sale at the mission's headquarters on Jackson Avenue in downtown Russellville. All items are provided at no charge.
"All people have to do is sign in," said FMO volunteer Pat McDonald. "We don't ask questions. We don't ask for social security numbers or any other information. Everyone is welcome."
McDonald came out of retirement to donate her efforts to the mission.
"This is my retirement heaven," she said, smiling.
Mangino said that FMO is a compassion ministry that looks back to the early days of Christianity for its inspiration.
"We try to pattern ourselves after the first century churches described in the Book of Acts," said Mangino. "In those days, the more fortunate church members shared their possessions with those in need."
Mangino's wife, Cheryl Mangino, volunteers at FMO when not working as a nurse at Mid South Home Health Agency.
"This is closer to the New Testament church," said Cheryl Mangino. "This is how Jesus Christ wanted it to be, those with resources helping those in need."
The ministry offers three hot meals a week: Thursday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 8 a.m. and Sunday following FMO's 11 a.m. service.
In the near future, FMO will be able to offer shelter to the homeless. The mission purchased the old Russellville Hospital on Coffee Street and has installed 27 beds there.
"As soon as we have the funds for a sprinkler system, and the fire marshal approves it, we'll have plenty of beds ready to sleep," said Cheryl Mangino. "We have regular requests for shelter. I don't think most people are aware of the homeless problem here in Franklin County."
Matthew Mangino praised FMO's volunteers and the sacrifices they make to be a part of the mission.
"Many of our volunteers work 40 hours a week," he said.
Emma Hargett, who's been volunteering at FMO for a year, said that she was grateful for the opportunity to help.
"Word is getting out about what we're doing here," said Hargett. "We see new people every week. Some of them have had problems with drugs or alcohol. Some are victims of domestic violence. Some are just in need. Providing food and material goods makes a difference, of course, but it's the counseling and talking to them that really helps."
Matthew Mangino estimates that FMO is now serving between 1200 and 1500 area residents every week.
To make a donation or to get involved with Faith Mission Outreach, call 331-GIVE.