FMO sees growing homeless problem

By Staff
John Hicks FCT Staff Writer
To illustrate the growing homeless problem in Franklin County, Matthew Mangino of Faith Mission Outreach in Russellville told a story about a surprise encounter with a homeless man.
"We have a panel truck for bread deliveries that we park behind the mission," Mangino said. "The other day I went out and raised the door up, and a man inside the truck jumped up and screamed. I screamed, too. I'll bet they heard me clear across town."
As Mangino and the homeless man recovered their composure, Mangino saw that the man had been taking shelter in the back of the truck, even setting up a cot to sleep on.
The man received assistance from FMO for a few days, then disappeared.
"There aren't any facilities in this area to help the homeless," Mangino said. "People sleep in their cars and in the back of trucks. Some people sleep in alleys. Most of these people are in hiding. They're living in fear. They're afraid of being arrested, or having their children taken from them. These people need help."
FMO is in the process of converting the old Russellville Hospital building on Coffee Street into a 40-bed homeless shelter, Grace Place.
"The downstairs is pretty much ready for the sprinkler system," Mangino said. "We still have some sheetrock work to complete upstairs."
Mangino said the sprinkler system alone will cost FMO $40,000.
"We had no idea when we started the project that we'd run into these kinds of costs," Mangino said. "We're spending thousands and thousands of dollars bringing the building up to code."
Mangino said FMO is in need of volunteers who can hang and finish out sheetrock at Grace Place. He also noted that the mission, located on South Jackson Avenue, is always seeking more volunteer help.
"With cold weather approaching, our top priority is to have our homeless facility ready for the winter," Mangino said.
Mangino, 38, has been in the ministry for 12 years. The Russellville native started FMO, a non-denominational, all-volunteer operation, three years ago. Mangino left his job as youth minister for a large church in the Shoals after feeling an overwhelming desire to return home.
"I knew that I was supposed to come back to Russellville and use the gifts that God has given me to make a difference," Mangino said. "Three years later, we're reaching up to 1,800 people a week with food, dry goods, clothing, furniture and appliances. We're doing more than we thought we'd ever be able to."
Mangino said local churches played a large role in FMO's success.
"Local churches have been wonderful," Mangino said. "Some support us with food drives, and several have dedicated a percentage of their monthly offerings to us. In turn, they refer people who come to them for assistance to us. We're better equipped to help with those needs."
FMO has 501(c)(3) status, so businesses and individuals can write their donations off on their taxes.
Mangino's willingness to take on seemingly impossible tasks has resulted in one of the area's strongest ministries. He admitted his style was unconventional, but said it produced results.
"I wear a lot of different hats," Mangino said. "I love motorcycles. I love old cars. I love art, and I draw a lot. I guess I walk to the beat of a different drum. But it works. We're reaching a lot of people."
To make a donation to FMO, call 331-GIVE.

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: American Legion Posts 64 and 120 – ‘Veterans Strengthening America’

Franklin County

RHS graduate crowned Miss Northwest Shoals

Franklin County

RHS graduate crowned Miss UNA

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: In memoriam – Monuments honor the fallen of Franklin

High School Sports

RHS senior chosen as Bryant-Jordan Region 8 Scholar winner

High School Sports

Russellville High School ladies soccer team members participate in annual Night to Shine

News

Russellville High School Scholars Bowl team qualifies for state tournament

News

Vina kindergarteners connect with lots of other classes

News

PCHS JAG student places in district conference

Features

Wedding Spotlight: Layne and Frank Edwards

Franklin County

RHS senior competes at state DYW competition

News

Extension, 4-H present free resume workshop

Franklin County

Franklin County has lots to love

High School Sports

Russellville High School honors alum Luther Tiggs with special night of basketball

News

BTCPA announces second production of season

News

RMS holds annual state assessment celebration

Franklin County

Red Bay welcomes new city attorney

Franklin County

Attempted traffic stop leads to high-speed vehicle pursuit, wreck 

Franklin County

Vehicle pursuit ends in wreck, arrest 

News

RFD, RHS collab promotes job readiness, community safety

Franklin County

Local students named to Mississippi State University’s fall 2023 President’s List

News

Russellville Elementary features among U.S. News & World Report best elementary schools

News

RCS receives recognition as finalist for national award

News

Plans get underway to raise funds for cancer research in memory of Bedfords

x