OWN
12/05/2014 05:08 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Why One Retiree Spent Her Life Savings On A School Bus (VIDEO)

At an age when most women are slowing down, 77-year-old Estella Pyfrom is just getting started. The Florida grandmother and retired teacher didn't opt for a quiet retirement that included relaxing on the front porch; rather, she decided to continue devoting herself to education and poured her life savings into a school bus. But it's not just any school bus.

Estella's Brilliant Bus is a mobile learning lab outfitted with more than a dozen computer stations, traveling to local communities to help the children most in need of access to technology and educational training.

"I started Estella's Brilliant Bus because I saw a need. Children that live in under-served neighborhoods don't have access to the Internet, because men of the families have to choose between food on the table and whether they attempt to provide Internet services and a computer," Pyfrom says in the above video. "For this next generation, access to computers is a chance for success."

Pyfrom's belief that hard work and a helping hand can change lives was instilled by her parents from a very young age. "When I was a girl, we were all very poor. Didn't have very much," she says. "But one of the things we learned -- that money cannot buy -- is how to help each other."

Pyfrom's father only had a 3rd-grade education, while her mother only reached grade four. But they knew education was the key to success, and made sure that their daughter knew it, too. Pyfrom took their teachings to heart and grew up to graduate college, earn a Master's degree and become a teacher.

"I was born to be a teacher," she says. "I'm proud to say I was an educator for 50 years."

Her husband and high school sweetheart, Willie, was a teacher as well. Money was tight. "I worked four jobs. I worked after school and I worked at night," Pyfrom says.

This lifetime of hard work paid off, as the couple had built up a healthy nest egg for their retirement. There was only one problem: Pyfrom wasn't ready to slow down.

"I knew I had more to offer," she says.

That's when she got the idea for Estella's Brilliant Bus. Equipping such a large vehicle with so many computers and software programs would be expensive, but Pyfrom was determined to make it happen. So, she did what most retirees wouldn't dare. She and her husband gathered their life savings -- $1 Million -- and made Pyfrom's dream a reality.

"It's all about investing in people," Pyfrom says. "When you invest in people, then the dividends and the returns will be greater in the future."

The impact of Estella's Brilliant Bus on students is already incredible, having helped more than 60,000 children envision a brighter future for themselves over the last three years. And young lives aren't the only ones who have been touched by her work. Pyfrom's bus also provides computers to the homeless to search for housing and jobs, and brings food to families in the community.

In recognition of all the good Pyfrom does for her community, Oprah's The Life You Want Weekend tour recently honored her as the recipient of the Toyota Standing O-Vation during its stop in Miami. Pyfrom received a $25,000 grant from Toyota, which Oprah then matched with her own funds. Meet the other Toyota Standing O-Vation recipients honored during the tour.

Of course, for Pyfrom, the rewards she feels from Estella's Brilliant Bus are priceless. "When you can see the smiles on their face and one that looks at you and says, 'I did it!', it makes me feel like all of my sacrifices, all of my hard work [are] not in vain."

It's something she plans to do for years to come.

"Will I ever stop?" she says. "Heck to the no!"

Like Us On Facebook |
Follow Us On Twitter

HuffPost

BEFORE YOU GO

PHOTO GALLERY
Life You Want Tour
CONVERSATIONS