Homeless to hope: Metro Ministries employee inspires others

- Metro Ministries' sole purpose is to help people. The mission is clear in the soul of a man who received that help.

Antron McNeil was in a bad place; homeless and without hope.

McNeil admits he made bad decisions. He prefers to leave those details in the past.

But he loves to tell people all about how he turned his life around working for the place that showed him amazing grace.

Time to turn over a new room and new opportunity to start again. Antron McNeil is on it.

"I'm sorta the be hope, the first person. My team cleans those rooms so that we can get a family in so that they can get whatever it is they might need", said McNeil.

He sees himself on the frontline of the mission at the heart of Metropolitan Ministries, giving hope.

The family that is about to move into the room has come from extreme trauma, but they're not alone in their recovery.

Every family who lives at this campus has come from a situation that most people cannot imagine.

McNeil has seen it all.

"I like to lift them up [and] give them a word of encouragement, whether it's 'good morning' or just touch them on the shoulder, 'It's gonna be alright.' Some of them look back and say 'How did you know what I'm going through?'" said McNeil.

He knows because he's been there.

"Things weren't going well. I started to run away from life, got down on my luck. I was making bad decisions," he remembered.

For a year, he lived underneath a Miami bridge without hope. Then he met his wife and made a change.

That brought them to Tampa. But then, as Antron says, life happened again.

"I got laid off that job like one week before Christmas. I had just one last paycheck and I needed to send my kids toys back to Miami," said McNeil.

But his wife had an idea. She took him to the holiday tent at Metropolitan Ministries.

"I walked in there and I was like, 'Wow, this is amazing,'" McNeil remembers.

As luck would have it, he found the job he was looking for right then and there. They hired him to work on the staff he now manages.

That was three years ago. Today, he's the environmental supervisor at Metropolitan Ministries.

"It's all God," said McNeil.

It's more than cleaning. McNeil sees it as a calling.

"This is what I like to do. I just like to clean. That's what keeps me humble," said McNeil.

So he sweeps and polishes and shines. Every new room is a new way for him to say "Welcome home, welcome to your new beginning. Everything is going to be okay."

For more information on Metropolitan Ministries, visit http://metromin.org/.

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