12/06/2013 10:14 am ET Updated Feb 27, 2015

Honoring the Heroes All Around Me

There is one daydream that almost all of us have had, and that dream is to be a hero. The heroes of our daydreams often vary as we grow, and so do our ideas of heroes.

Everyone has an identity -- teacher, mother, athlete, leader. I identify as a wife and a mother. An advocate and activist. A Christian and teacher. Above all else, these words describe who I am.

In recent years, however, a new word has been used to describe me -- hero. As great as it is to have people come up to me and tell me I am their "hero," I am not sure I will ever identify.

There are many definitions of heroes. Some depict a hero as a person of distinguished courage or ability who is admired for her brave deeds and noble qualities, while others consider a hero to be a person who has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is seen by others as a model or idea.

While these descriptions describe to some extent the work I am doing with Estella's Brilliant Bus, I don't consider myself a hero. I see myself as a normal woman doing the best I can to help others. Yes, I see myself as extraordinary in many aspects, but not a hero. I am a courageous woman, an achiever with a passion to go and help where I can and when I can, but does this make me a hero?

When I started Estella's Brilliant Bus, I just wanted to do what I could to fix a problem in my community. As a lifelong educator, equipping a bus with computers and taking it to underserved areas was no more heroic than anything else I had done. All I did was identify a problem and pitch in and help. It seemed simple and the right thing to do. Thankfully, this decision is making a huge difference in the lives children.

Yet, I am no more of a hero than any of the other men and women who "pitch in and help" every day. Society is filled with people who perform heroic and honorable deeds; people who identify problems and do all they can to fix them. Real heroes are the people who help support great causes and refuse to make excuses. They do everything it takes to make things happen.

If I am a hero, then so are all of the people who have helped along the way:

My parents --

Never undervalue the lessons and life your parents provide you. My parents had nothing, but gave their children everything. They instilled in me the value of hard work and without their guidance and example I would not have been prepared to face even the most trivial obstacles life threw my way.

My children --

Just as I am sure I have inspired my children, my children and grandchildren inspire me. Watching their independence, love for each other and humankind makes me so proud to be a mother and motivates me to go out and be a better person each day.

Estella's Brilliant Bus Volunteers --

Estella's Brilliant Bus would have never left the parking lot if it weren't for the amazing volunteers who worked tirelessly and helped endlessly on this project.

Without my parents, family and the amazing support of likeminded volunteers, nobody would have ever identified me as a hero. And as thankful as I am that people view me in this light, the most important thing to me is helping the children in the community and serving as a role model and inspiration for those who have similar dreams of making a difference.

This post is part of a series co-produced by The Huffington Post and L'Oréal Paris to celebrate the Women of Worth program, honoring women making a beautiful difference in the world. The ten 2013 Women of Worth honorees are pursuing their passions to accomplish the extraordinary through philanthropic efforts in their communities. Bound by a deep sense of purpose and appetite for change, these women were chosen from thousands of applicants, and each received $10,000 for her charitable cause from L'Oréal Paris. To learn more about Women of Worth or to submit a nomination beginning Spring 2014, please visit