Tonight’s blog is going to be a little different in the sense that I have done an interview with someone that I find very inspiring and very heroic. Yolanda Cameron is the cofounder of Wes for Youth Online and I decided to ask her a few questions to get to know her a little bit better. To start off the interview I asked her to tell me about herself generally. “My name is Yolanda Cameron. My husband Jamie and I have owned the Cameron Funeral Home in Walkerton for just over 20 years. I am a licenced funeral director for 25 years. I have three sons: Jay, who lives in KW with his girlfriend Danielle and works in Guelph and will soon have his funeral director’s licence. My middle son Wendel, just finished his second year at Western studying Kinesiology and is working at the funeral home for the summer. My youngest son is Wes, who died by suicide at age 16 in September 2011.”
While talking to Yolanda, I asked her some personal questions about how her life changed after Wes died, I asked her some questions about her work with Wes for Youth Online, and some quirky questions about her.
1. Who/ what inspires you to do the amazing things that you continue to do for Wes for Youth?
It’s my youngest son Wes, who inspired us to create WFYO as a means of helping other young people. It was by reading his FB and iPhone that we realized a lot of young people will say things on line that they wouldn’t say in person. Because social media is a youth’s first choice of communication, we wanted to use it in a positive manner for them to realize they are not alone and it’s okay to ask for help.
2. What is the first thing you would do if you became famous?
I’m not sure I want to be famous! If it means having WFYO accessible to any youth in Ontario or Canada and it’s making a difference in their lives and mental health and saves young lives, then I would do whatever I need to do to make that happen.
3. Can you describe a typical day at the Wes office?
My dog Lacey and I usually arrive around 8:30 a.m. and we get settled in and check emails, FB and Twitter if possible. My co-worker Jenn usually brings coffee at 9 a.m. and then we sit in her office and look at the calendar for the day, the week, the month. There is usually an event we have planned that needs activities looked after, or we’ve been invited to participate, asked to put up a display or speak to a class. I also look after the ‘business’ of running WFYO, looking for grant money, fill out lots of paper work, answer phone calls etc. Our resource centre is also become more used by other community groups, so we need to make sure it’s ready for whoever is using it.
4. What was your biggest mistake in life and how have you over come it?
Not fully appreciating my family and taking them for granted. You always think you have tomorrow, and then one day, you don’t and you can never change what’s happened in the past. Each day is a gift and we should learn to share it and use it wisely. Be kind always.
5. What is something that you are very proud of?
I’m proud of my family. I’m proud of WFYO and what we have accomplished. I wish it didn’t need to be here, but hopefully it will help other young people and their families not to have to live the way our family does without Wes being here.
6. As a child, what was your dream job?
I’m not sure. I like doing lots of different things. I did want to be a hairdresser at one point, but my father thought I was too smart for that.
7. What was your most memorable family vacation you took?
We have always cottaged up north with the boys and one year we took the ChiChiMaun across and drove around and stopped in Sudbury and then on to our cottage. The boys still talk about it.
8. What is your most cherished family tradition?
Christmas was our most cherished tradition with the boys, but it’s not the same without Wes and we’ve had to change it considerably. It now includes a visit to the cemetery. I’ve bought an ornament every year for the boys. I still do and I keep Wes’.
9. Anything else you would like to add?
Thank you Sarah, for helping us promote WFYO.
A huge thank you to Yolanda for answering these personal questions and sharing them with me and all you guys! Yolanda and Jenn will be at the Spaghetti Dinner on June 13th and the Wes office has tickets for sale as well! Thanks for reading!