-Meet Brent Meiler, a former shelter resident and now a responsible employee. Brent’s story is one for the books. In 2007 he owned his own home here in Camden, and then tragedy struck. He had his first stroke. Unfortunately, this stroke left him unable to work and unable to pay taxes on his home. For months Brent waited on his disability to be approved; he waited and waited, with no income in sight. In 2008, he lost the house, and losing his home left him homeless. His disability through Social Security was finally approved in 2009, unfortunately it was just a little too late.
With nowhere to go, Brent turned to family. He moved to North Carolina with his sister in 2008, and was with her for 3 years though his second stroke and therapy. After months of rehabilitation, he could care for himself again and was able to move back to South Carolina in 2012. He resided in Gaston, SC with a friend whom was a cancer patient and his wife. He cared for this friend, then his wife until they both passed in 2020. He was now truly homeless.
During this time, he survived on disability, sleeping in his car in the Walmart parking lot and caring for himself at the Pilot truck stop on Hwy 601. To eat he would go to the Dollar Tree and buy “ready to eat” meals; these are things like peanut butter, sandwiches, and tuna. He kept cases of water in his trunk. He did this for 6 months, just to survive. Eventually Brent called affordable government housing in Columbia, and they transferred him to New Day on Mill. He was told to come to United Way and apply for food stamps. Once at the United Way of Kershaw County building, he explained his situation and in July 2021 he joined us at Food for the Soul.
While at the shelter, Brent took the initiative to improve himself. He started putting in floors and working at Black Tie Bartending in Columbia. He saved his money in preparation to leave the shelter. New Day on Mill was able to place him in the Men’s Transitional Housing. While he was there, Food for the Soul assisted him with ECHO Housing, and he was finally able to be placed in a home by himself, in Lugoff.
Since leaving the shelter, Brent has found the kindness in his heart to donate his time back to the shelter to train the new temporary residents on how to do chores. Within two weeks of volunteering, Food for the Soul hired him. Brent loves to volunteer his time and even comes in two hours before his scheduled shift to give back to the shelter and help where needed.