courtesy of Estella Pyfrom and CNN
Estella’s Brilliant Bus was designed and created by Estella Pyfrom. It is a customized mobile learning center, designed to travel to communities and deliver services to underprivileged children and families in Palm Beach, Martin and Broward Counties in Florida. Estella has organized and operated a food pantry and is now a partner with Feeding South Florida. She has also piloted a tutoring program for children of homeless families.
Sam's Dream Blog: How has your dream for Estella’s Brilliant Bus evolved?
Estella Pyfrom: My dream was to [increase from serving] one neighborhood to serving other neighborhoods, helping kids with their learning skills. My goal was to be able to get into a partnership with other community agencies so that I could provide more services to underprivileged families. The project has grown to multiple facets of community service. We’re getting parents involved with the kids. We have had language classes for adults. Basically, we address the needs of the community. That’s what I envisioned when I started with the Bus, not just a bus but a movement.
SDB: What was the key to having that dream take off?
Estella Pyfrom: I think the key to having this project take off is that people are worn out from negative stuff day in and day out. I think it’s time we focus more on the positives, what we can do to help individuals, families and businesses, rather than accentuating the negatives. I have people who come to me and say, 'I want to help you accomplish your mission because I believe in your mission.’
SDB: Why is it important to focus on the positive?
Estella Pyfrom: I think positive things help put people in a position where they can improve their lifestyles. What I say to my volunteers is I don’t want to burn my good energy on a bunch of negative things. I’d rather save my good energy to accentuate positive things.
SDB: I read that you worked 50 years in the school district before creating Estella’s Brilliant Bus. What kept you going?
Estella Pyfrom: What motivated me to stay in the school district that long is that I thoroughly loved working with families and school children helping them help themselves, the mentoring part of it. I was inspired to do that because I grew up in an underprivileged neighborhood. People in the neighborhood really helped each other. We didn’t have very much money, but whatever resources they had, they shared with each other. Really, it took a village to raise the children. It helped us learn how to share and give back to our communities.
SDB: What’s the key to finding a passion like you have?
Estella Pyfrom: I would say to the young people, don’t shy away from your dreams. Don’t listen to negative people that say it’s not going to happen. If you have a dream and you are willing to work for that to make it happen, it can happen.
My mom and dad made us believe we could accomplish almost anything if we were willing to work at it. I’d say to the young people, don’t let people tell you what you can’t do. You have to be the one to give it a try and work at it. If you can and are willing to work at it, you can make it happen.
That’s what my dad said, 'You weren’t born with a silver platter.’ Nobody’s going to hand you anything, but there are a lot of good things that can happen to you. If it’s going to happen, you’ve got to be the one to make it happen. It may take you a little longer to accomplish something if it’s something new, but don’t give up on it.
I had five siblings. My parents were migrants. When I was a kid, we couldn’t even sit on a bus. All the seats were taken by people of other colors. I went from not being able to sit on a bus, to where I could ride on the bus with the same options as other people, to owning a bus.
SDB: What’s your advice in terms of knowing when to keep working on a dream vs. when to just let it go and move on?
Estella Pyfrom: What I learned from Disney is that creative people always look for better ways of doing things. A 'no’ doesn’t always mean a 'no.’ It means that you need to look at another option.
SDB: Anything else you would like to add?
Estella Pyfrom: When you are working on any project, do your research. Do your homework and make sure you devoted the time and the effort to what you need to do to make it work. You have to realize maybe other people may not understand. You have to make a commitment to yourself and to your cause.