SAN ANTONIO -- Most mornings 39-year old Remmie Lopez, can be found at Mad Dogs on the River Walk preparing the business to open for business.
His life now is a stark contrast to what it was just four years ago.
Remmie, who suffers from mental illness and developmental disabilities, was severely abused, neglected and living on the streets.
"I was homeless because my family disowned me because of my preference and my disability. I had a rough life." Lopez said.
His life started to change for the better when he got involved with SA Clubhouse, a center dedicated to helping people with mental illness.
When Remmie arrived at SA Clubhouse he would not talk, had never worked and was completely alone.
"When he came to us he wasn't really talking. He was pretty wounded," said Mark Stoeltje, SA Clubhouse Executive Director.
Remmie had been sick since childhood and was a child of divorce. He endured years of abuse and neglect.
"My family would tell me because I was disabled that I wasn't going to make it and because of my seizures I was never going to get a job and that no one was ever going to love me," said Lopez.
When he became an adult, neither parent wanted him, nor was he unable to care for himself. He went to live with his sister and her boyfriend, there the abuse escalated according to Lopez.
He said there were times food was withheld from him or he would be locked out on the balcony.
Remmie soon found himself living at Haven for Hope's emergency shelter. He was eventually led to SA Clubhouse. There Remmie slowly grew out of his shell as he gained confidence and developed friendships.
He started to do volunteer work and within a short time was ready to find a job. Through a transitional employment program, Remmie began working at a MadDog's on the River Walk as a busser.
"We wanted to create a job that would get him moving and build his confidence. We weren't sure what the job would be but we knew it was the right thing to do," said Terry Corless, Mad Dog's Group CEO.
Remmie loved the job and soon became a vital part of the restaurant's operation set up.
Four years after he first walked into SA Clubhouse his life and completely turned around. He has friends, a job and recently rented an apartment. His co-workers helped him furnish the apartment.
“I'm happy. I never felt that before or had that kind of love inside me," Lopez said.
Recently, Remmie was given the “Consumer Rising Star Award” by the Bexar County Behavioral Health and Wellness Conference.
The award is in recognition for Remmie's hard work and determination to overcome obstacles and serve as a role model for others in the community.
(© 2016 KENS)