UPDATE: Apopka firefighter credits local couple for his rise from poverty to a shot on American Idol

APOPKA, Fla. — Last week, we introduced you to Apopka firefighter Jeremias Williams before he appeared on American Idol.

Unfortunately, Williams did not receive a golden ticket to Hollywood, but he says he’s still committed to serving others.

“I feel like my calling is to help people,” Williams says.

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Williams’ journey has been far from simple, which is why he says Sunday’s disappointment on “Idol” won’t affect his work with the Apopka Fire Department.

“So many people helped me throughout my journey,” Williams says. “So I just had that urge...that passion to do the same for other people.”

Williams overcame extreme poverty, growing up the youngest of nine children, much of the time without electricity.

Despite those challenges, Williams became the first in his family to graduate high school before moving on to fire and EMT school.

“Once I got those people in my life to help me and to show me that I could, then other things started to come into pass...I was like wow, the sky’s the limit.”

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“We saw what he would become and could become,” Matt says. “He just needed a little bit of a push. He wanted to do it on his own, you know. He had pride in himself. He had respect for himself. He had talent. He had ambition, but when you’re in poverty, there’s things that can hold you back.”

Erika Houvouras says Jeremias just needed a little help.

“He just needed someone to help him crack open the door, and then he just bashed it down,” she says.

Erika and Matt invited Williams to live with them, giving him a bed for the first time in his life, and opening his eyes to things many take for granted.

“He’d never used a washing machine and dryer before...We had to kind of say ok, here’s how I use the washer and dryer, and here’s how you use the dishwasher and here’s cable.”

Williams lived with the Houvouras for two years. They say he was the easiest person to live with, except for one thing…

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“Other than the fact that he sang all the time around the house and never quite finished a song,” Erika recalls. “It’s always like snippets of a song.”

Full songs or not, American Idol or firefighter, Williams says he became the man he is today because of the two Apopka High School teachers.

“I’m just so very proud of him,” Erika says. “I know he’s getting all of this admiration and attention because of American Idol, but regardless of all that, just the man he is, the firefighter that he is, the example in the community that he is. That’s what makes me the proudest.”