WSVN — When his father was accused of murdering his mother, his life took a horrible turn. Then, earlier this year, he called Help Me Howard with a simple request: help getting a birth certificate. Then his story aired on Channel 7, and you won’t believe what happened. Here is Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Some people get slammed in their life. It happened to Raul Villafanez.

Raul Villafanez: "Back in 2010, my father killed my mother and my cousin."

Raul had nowhere to go and spent the next five years bouncing from one friend’s house to another, sleeping on couches much of the time while still managing to graduate from North Miami Senior High School.

Raul Villafanez: "It was rough. I was just confused, lost."

But Raul didn’t call Help Me Howard for sympathy. He wanted to move ahead in his life, dreaming of becoming a police officer. However, with no birth certificate, he couldn’t even get a driver’s license.

Raul Villafanez: "To get my birth certificate, I need a Florida ID card. To get a Florida ID card, I need my birth certificate. It’s not that easy."

A true catch-22 mess, but with the help of his high school guidance counselor, I gathered enough documents, and the state of Florida issued a birth certificate.

Raul Villafanez: "I am not a John Doe anymore."

Then our Help Me Howard on Raul aired, and his life took a major turn.

Jules Boucicaut: "We both, at the same time [said], ‘We need to jump in and help this young man get his license.’"

Jules not only taught Raul how to drive. He paid for his license.

Aventura Police Sgt. Marc Frieder: "I saw a story about a young man who was asking some assistance from Help Me Howard."

Sgt. Marc Frieder from the Aventura Police Department decided to help Raul become an officer.

Marc Frieder: "And I explained to him it was all very doable, but it was going to take a lot of work on his part. And I asked him if he was up to the task, and he told me that he was."

Marc contacted Sgt. Chuck Duncan from the Miami-Dade Police Officers Assistance Trust to draw from his contacts.

Chuck Duncan: "This young man Raul is really the hero, in my opinion, because here he is, he’s taking the initiative to do something."

John Williams from 50 State Security offered to pay for Raul’s training to see if the teenager was ready to become a security guard.

John Williams: "Then he goes to a 48-hour training program and gets a State of Florida ‘D’ license that allows him to be an unarmed security guard anywhere in the state of Florida. He’s doing great."

Raul just turned 19 and has a job with 50 State Security.

Raul Villafanez: "Yeah, I got the job, and I love it."

But Raul now wants to take the next step.

Raul Villafanez: "It’s something inside me that’s telling me to become a police officer, something I’ve always wanted to do."

And all those people who helped Raul are making sure he gets the chance.

Chuck Duncan: "He wants to be an officer of the Miami-Dade Police Department, and hope that one day we will be doing a story about him being sworn in."

The company Amscot has offered to help pay for Raul to go to the police academy. Raul has even targeted a start date.

Raul Villafanez: "My plan is to get enrolled into the police academy, and I will be starting in January of 2016."

Patrick Fraser: "And then you’ll be a police officer, then, by…"

Raul Villafanez: "By the end of the year."

Of course, there are still curveballs. A Channel 7 viewer donated a car. After it broke down, a mechanic fixed it for free — twice. Then it was junked. But while Raul saves to buy another car, the law enforcement officers made sure he had a way to get to his new job.

John Williams: "Miami-Dade County Transit got him a bus pass so he could ride anywhere in South Florida on any public transportation to get wherever he needed to go."

So many people coming together to help a teenager that truly had no one. Sgt. Frieder, who reminds Raul he also started out as a security guard, isn’t surprised.

Marc Frieder: "The first thing, just like all the other police officers in the country, is I’m here to help people. Officers every day around this country help them, but you don’t oftentimes see or hear that."

Raul never expected to see it all happen to him. When he called Help Me Howard, all he was asking for was help getting a birth certificate.

Raul Villafanez: "I’m very lucky. I’m very grateful, too, for everyone that’s helping me."

As a teenager, Raul didn’t have a parent to keep an eye on him, but he never wavered, never got in trouble and never broke the law. Just a good kid. Hopefully the next story we do with Raul will be the day he’s sworn in as a police officer, thanks to so many generous people in South Florida.

ID’d a problem you want to solve? Need someone to donate the time to help? Contact us. This isn’t a job for us; it’s a joy. With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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