Doris Flamer may be retired, but she still has a hectic commute.
Every weekday, Flamer drives eight children to five different West Philadelphia schools in her royal-blue van. The retiree, a resident of Wynnefield for more than 45 years, said she does it for the love of the children.
“You see a lot of our children walking to school by themselves,” Flamer said. “This way, the parents don’t have to worry about their children getting to school on time and safely.”
Flamer’s morning starts at five o’clock and does not end until the last child gets to school on time. Her stops include Murrell Dobbins High School, Mann-Mastery Charter School, Mastery-Shoemaker School, Harambee Institute of Science and Technology School and Discovery Charter School.
“My morning is really hectic, but I’ve worked it out so I can make that circle and it’s no
problem,” Flamer said. “All the mothers love me.”
Parents of the children Flamer drives to school have shown their gratitude in various ways, from offering to pick up her groceries to bringing her food.
Many neighborhood parents have asked Flamer to take their children to school as well, but she lacks the space for more children. Flamer recently bought a new van that seats nine people, which helps the commute from school to school.
“We had a van that held seven people,” Flamer said. “The one we have now holds nine, so I can take eight children to and from school. We can’t get any more in there.”
The children she drives to school call Flamer “grandmother.” Flamer said that after she picks them up from school and takes them back to her home, some children tell her that they would rather stay with her than go back to their own homes.
But Flamer said there is only one thing said she would not do: baby-sit.
“I will drop your children off in the morning, pick them up and hold them at my home until you get off work, but I will not baby-sit. They need to go to school,” Flamer said.
“I do it out of love for the children. I love them,” Flamer said. “It’s just helping people. That is what it’s all about. Neighbor helping neighbor.”