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Lena Kennedy Continuing Brother’s Legacy With Turkey Giveaway

Published on Thursday, November 17, 2022 | 5:52 am

Lena Kennedy, sister of late Pasadena City Councilmember John J. Kennedy. [Paul Takizawa/Pasadena Now]
At this time of year, it is not unusual for council members to pass out turkeys and hand out canned food to families for the holidays. 

But this year one event will mean so much more. 

On Friday when Councilmember Tyron Hampton and Mayor Victor Gordo pass out turkeys at the Alkebu-lan Cultural Center, the event will also be a continuation of the legacy of Councilmember John J. Kennedy.

Kennedy died in July. 

“John Kennedy was such a huge figure in this community and the tentacles from the lives he touched reached far and wide,” said his sister Lena Kennedy. 

Lena said she was grateful to Hampton and Mayor Victor Gordo for picking up the mantle. 

“Many people don’t know the passion he had for each person he interacted with. The turkey giveaway is not about the turkey, but the people.”

According to Lena, to John the turkey giving was an opportunity to build relationships.

“He did not turn away one person,” Lena said. “Even if he ran out he would go out and buy more turkeys.”

Kennedy began the event in 2013 and gave out about 1,500 turkeys every year to families in need. 

More than 75 volunteers helped Kennedy at the annual event. 

Volunteers included members of the Pasadena Police Department, the City’s Parks and Recreation Department, the Pasadena Fire Department, My Tribe Rise, Children Working to Save Our Planet, USMC-Pasadena, Blair Jr. ROTC, Deputy Police Chief Cheryl Moody, the Pasadena High School football team, Northwest Ambassadors, and members of the City of Pasadena’s Executive Leadership Team.

“We are all one people holding different titles and playing different roles to make one Pasadena,” Lena said. “John used the giveaway to build relationships with law enforcement, city officials and community members. He used every opportunity to build one Pasadena by building relationships.”

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