Ms. Ethel Gardner has come from the most humble beginnings and has endured many tragedies. The second daughter of ten children, growing up without a mother, a grandmother, or a female mentor, had a significant impact on the life she would live. Being subjected to imprisonment and domestic violence, at the hand of her childrens’ father, created an opportunity for her to not just survive, but thrive. Through the help of a female 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 no mother ever wants to receive, the news 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 unexplained, 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. Gardner (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. Gardner, affectionately known as 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 foundations 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. Ms. Gardner also hosts an annual “Million Mother’s March,” a community event that commemorates the lives of loved ones that have passed away. This is an event of celebration and honor.
Over the years, she has been able to turn her tragedy into triumph and published her first book, “A Mother’s Cry” on October 8, 2004. Continuing in service, she has been recognized for her community outreach and support, and has even been honored by Senator Connie Leyva as the “2015 Women of the Year” and locally for being Pomona’s very own “Hero of the Year.”
The Kennedy Austin Foundation International Family Institute is a family-crisis intervention center serving the Tri-City community of Pomona, Claremont, and La Verne, California.
A NON-PROFIT - 501(C)3
We serve people of myriad circumstances, ages, faiths, and cultures, providing them with wellness and crisis-intervention designed to educate, equip, and empower.
KAF offers 16-week group programs in grief and loss for families who have lost a child, court-approved domestic violence and anger management, parenting classes, and a journaling group called Write the Wrongs. Write the Wrongs began in 2016, in collaboration with Tri-City Mental Health Services, and was developed to help individuals seek emotional healing and growth through journaling.
We also offer a special 16-week program for children 5- to 18-years-old called Creating Space, for children who are or have experienced childhood trauma.
Kennedy Austin Foundation International Family Institute has a food giveaway every Wednesday each week.