PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- Martina Slappy has a larger-than-life personality that simply cannot be missed. Wearing a smile that shines for miles, she can be found driving around Philadelphia in a big red minivan.
On the side of her vehicle is a sticker that reads, "Reliable Mom Transport LLC," raising the eyebrows of many who pass her by.
But it's more than just the title of Martina's business. "Reliable Mom" is a title emblematic of the figure she has become for her Mount Airy community and beyond.
Ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, she has been running errands and transporting senior citizens wherever they desire.
"It's very refreshing for me. It makes me feel good. They get what they need and then, they're calling me back later," she said.
Martina, a single mom of two, is now a mother to all of Philadelphia.
The business began last year in November, albeit with a different purpose. Martina's daughter and her classmates experienced routine issues with bussing. Ironically, Martina had been working as a bus driver in Lower Merion. She decided to quit her job and become a personal bus driver for these young students in the neighborhood.
"Who wouldn't want their children to ride with a lady with the name of Reliable Mom?" she said.
Her new business was on a roll until March 2020, when both her minivan and in-person schooling hit the brakes due to COVID-19.
That's when she evolved into a multi-purpose errands service.
"She's punctual. She's courteous," said Marie Session, one of Reliable Mom's clients. "We called for a lift cab and she came. And we've been using her ever since."
Martina takes senior citizens like Session to the pharmacy, barbershop, and nail salon in addition to picking up their groceries and prescription medications.
Especially during a global pandemic, this was a need she felt compelled to act on. She even offers to negotiate pricing for those struggling financially.
"It was just a strength inside of me. I don't know where it came from, but probably my grandmother," she said. "She just always said, if you want to go do something, go do it. Don't wait."
And Martina Slappy, now taking on a similar maternal role for the entire city, makes no hesitation.
To learn more about Reliable Mom, contact Martina Slappy at firstname.lastname@example.org