Houston man goes from homeless to Marriott Marquis employee

Ricardo Hernandez used to be homeless. It was the Harris County Sheriff's Office Homeless Outreach Team that got him off the streets.

The countdown to Super Bowl 51 is heating up. Thursday will mark exactly one month until the big game in Houston on Feb. 5.

On Wednesday, we met a man who has a front-row seat to all the action.

That's only because he worked very hard to get off the streets and now has a job in what will be a hot spot for Super Bowl fun: the Texas-shaped pool at the brand new Marriott Marquis in downtown Houston.

Ricardo Hernandez appreciates the scenic setting more than any hotel guest.

"The view here is so beautiful and so peaceful," he said.

Hernandez used to be homeless. It was the Harris County Sheriff's Office Homeless Outreach Team that got him off the streets.

"We reiterate trust all the time, because they don't trust us at first because of the uniform," said James Kelley, a deputy on the team.

"That might take a few times, with Ricardo it only took two times... some of them we are still trying, making contact," said Luke Ditta, another deputy on the team.

They brought Hernandez to the Open Door Mission and since then he's been thriving. Even joining the choir, sharing the joy his new life brings him.

"We were here standing as his family in this same room on his graduation six months later in this program, and that was just a great feeling," Ditta said.

Now, at his new job as a maintenance engineer at the Marriott Marquis, his greatest satisfaction comes from making sure guests are enjoying the newest Super Bowl attraction. It looks out over a city he's seen from the bottom and now the top.

"There's a lot of help out there, you know, but they have to be willing to make that change," Hernandez said.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office Homeless Outreach Team has only been up and running for a little over a year. Hernandez is one of the first men they met. Since then, they've helped close to 100 people off the streets.

(© 2017 KHOU)


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