Today we’d like to introduce you to Yolande McCray.
Yolande, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My friend Julia Bennett was shot and killed in 2011. She left three children behind. Since her death, I made it a priority to mentor to her children and make sure that they received the help they needed after her passing. One of the deficits that I noticed was their perceived limited coping options. I started to explore and encourage different types of therapy… educating them on a variety of ways to cope after a loss while driving home the importance of talking and communicating your feelings. An additional emphasis was placed on validating their feelings… letting them know that it was ok to wake up and be sad or mad and attribute those feelings to grieving the loss of their mom.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
No smooth road here… NO ONE LIKES TO DISCUSS DEATH!! This is a fundamental road block because if the surviving parent or caregiver does not acknowledge the importance of appropriate grieving and mental wellness after a loss then they do not bring the child to the various therapy events. The word therapy, I learned, has a strong connotation attached to it which led me to call the therapies we explore (Art, Music, Pet, Exercise/Yoga and Traditional Group with Journaling) the Healthy Healing Series. Lastly, funding has been challenging. We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that Is solely funded off donations at this time.
Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
Julia’s Kids helps children and young adults between ages 5-18 who have experienced the loss of a parent by death, permanent incarceration or permanent separation. We help them to explore different options of therapy/coping skills through our Healthy Healing Series. In January 2019, we will have the grand opening for Julia’s Kids Resource Center in The City Of Miami Gardens. This Resource Center will be a one-stop location for families who have experienced a loss. We will have resources in place to help them through the transition and a guide to assist in the “what next” time frame after a loss where things can be a blur. I am proud of the scholarships that we have been able to award high school seniors who have experienced a loss. I am equally proud of the connection that I have been able to make with some wonderful children who still call me because they know I will pick up and make the time to talk to them.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I would say that I have been extremely blessed to have some compassionate people in my path. Many have approached me and said, “Hey, I love what you are doing, how can I help?” I have also made some great connections and we truly have worked as a mental health team. There is constant communication about events that are coming up where the audience may benefit from hearing more about Julia’s Kids.
- Address: 20535 NW 2nd Avenue
Miami Gardens, FL 33169
- Website: www.juliaskids.org
- Phone: (954) 800-3953
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @juliaskids
- Facebook: Julias Kids Incorporated
- Twitter: julias_kids