Mission Kid — Mission Accomplished: Mannie Willis
When Mannie thinks of the Mission, he remembers mastering the monkey bars and learning how to play the piano. In 2004, when Mannie was nine years old and moved to the Mission with his family, those activities were some of the biggest moments of his young life. After the instability of evictions and homelessness, Mannie’s newfound opportunity to experience small childhood joys reignited the magic of just being a kid.
While Mannie’s father worked to achieve his high school diploma and Mannie’s mother gained valuable job skills in our Discipleship program, Mannie’s life transformed, too. Before his time at the Mission, Mannie did not have the means to fit in with his peers. Simple donations like new clothes and toys reintroduced carefree fun into his life and allowed him to return to school with his head held high. Christmas at the Mission was especially bountiful, bringing joy and presents, including the gift he’d longed for — his first bike hidden in their family’s shower. “That was one of the peak moments of happiness I’ve ever had,” Mannie reminisces.
Today Mannie’s parents live in Fern Park and enjoy a stable life. Meanwhile, Mannie works full-time in business development for a staffing agency while simultaneously working on a degree in economics. “I love the life that I live,” Mannie shares. That life still includes the Mission. Mannie has remained connected to Mission staff members who encouraged him and made him feel seen, valued, and believed in. Furthermore, Mannie has recently joined our team of volunteers, wishing to encourage others just as he was once encouraged. From his experience, Mannie knows that the donation of time and attention can make a tremendous impact. And for those who give back to the Mission, whether through money, items, or time, Mannie will assure you, “What you’re doing makes a difference in a kid’s life.”