We want to share an inspirational story about a 77-year-old retired teacher who is having a second career giving back to her community at an age when most are slowing down.
Meet Estella Pyfrom, a truly special Florida grandmother who didn’t choose a quiet retirement, she did what most retirees wouldn’t dare, Estella and her husband invested their life savings ($1 million dollars) into a school bus that she turned into a mobile learning lab.
She calls it “Estella’s Brilliant Bus,” and it travels to local communities to help educate children who don’t normally have access to technology. “I started Estella’s Brilliant Bus because I saw a need,” she said. “Children that live in under-served neighborhoods don’t have access to the Internet because some families have to choose between food on the table or a computer… For this next generation, access to computers is a chance for success.”
Estella’s parents instilled in her a belief that hard work and a helping hand can change lives at an early age. “When I was a girl, we were all very poor but one of the things we learned (that money cannot buy) is how to help each other,” she said.
Pyfrom’s mother and father only had 3rd and 4th grade educations but they knew knowledge was essential to success; they made sure their daughter knew it too. Pyfrom used their motivation to go on to earn a Master’s degree and become a teacher. “I was born to be a teacher,” she said. “I’m proud to say I was an educator for 50 years.”
Willie, her husband and high school sweetheart, was an educator as well. For most of their lives money was tight. “I worked four jobs; I worked after school and I worked at night,” Pyfrom said. But their lifetime of hard work paid off when they were able to build up a sizeable nest egg for retirement.
When the time came to slow down and take it easy, Pyfrom wasn’t interested. “I knew I had more to offer,” she said. “It’s all about investing in people. When you invest in people, the dividends and returns will be greater in the future.”
In the three years since she founded Estella’s Brilliant Bus, it has helped more than 60,000 children see a brighter future. Children aren’t the only people her work has helped. Estella’s bus also offers computers to homeless who are looking for jobs and housing, and it also transports food to needy families in the community.
Recognizing everything Pyfrom has given back to her community, Oprah Winfrey’s “The Life You Want Weekend” tour rewarded her with the Toyota Standing O-Vation award where she received a $25,000 grant from Toyota, which Oprah matched.
But her biggest reward is the joy she brings to kids who need a little hope. “When you can see the smiles on their faces and one looks at you and says, ‘I did it!’ it makes me feel like all of my sacrifices, all of my hard work was not in vain.”
When asked if she will ever retire? She said, “Heck to the no!”
Read the story here.