Ms. Ethel Gardner has come from the most humble beginnings and has endured many tragedies. She grew up without a mother, a grandmother, or a female mentor; this had a significant impact on the life she would live. She was subjected to imprisonment and domestic violence, at the hand of her children’s’ father, which created an opportunity for her to not just survive, but thrive.
Through the help of a friend, she found the courage to change her circumstances and pursue her destiny. She knew her calling was for a greater purpose and it would only be realized if she persevered and stepped out on faith. During her journey of freedom and discovery, tragedy once again disrupted her newfound peace.
One sad day, she received a call that her teenaged son had been killed in an automobile accident. Up to this point, tragedy had a way of interfering with life, but this time, the pain endured was unexplainable, grossly unbearable and completely life-altering. How would she ever get beyond the pain?
With help from God, the support of her daughters, and ultimately the birth of her granddaughter, Kennedy Austin, life after loss became the objective. Ethel decided to empower herself by using her experiences and lessons learned to support others dealing with grief after loss. On March 13, 1993, she envisioned a family crisis intervention center and soon thereafter, she established the Kennedy Austin Foundation, a nonprofit organization aimed at providing education, physical support, and resources to women and families whose lives have been impacted by the loss of a child or domestic violence. Ms. Ethel has made it her mission to educate, equip, and empower women and show them that they too have the means to turn tragedy into triumph.
Ms. Ethel has worked tirelessly to provide all resource support free of charge, by bringing together community resources and by way of community donations. She also works with a team of volunteers who share her passion for people and she invites others to support her foundation’s mission.
As part of her community outreach efforts, she has partnered with the city of Pomona to be a “first responder” to those in crisis; by providing food, clothing, shelter, and end of life planning resource services. She has also partnered with Tri-City Mental Health Services to provide grief counseling and support.