WESTFORD – Robert Baker was watching a news program recently when he saw a piece on an electrician from Massachusetts who received a humanitarian award for his charity work fixing homes for those who couldn’t afford the repairs.
A master electrician himself — and an Electrical Technology instructor at Nashoba Valley Technical High School in Westford — Baker was impressed.
He told his students about John Kinney, who had started a charity, Gloria’s Gladiators, after he was called to the Woburn home of an elderly woman for what he thought would be a simple repair. But when Kinney saw the state of the woman’s home, he jumped into action, recruiting friends and volunteers to do repairs on the home free of charge.
As news spread of Kinney’s good deed, the group received support from the community and adopted the name Gloria’s Gladiators. Kinney went on to receive the 2020 Humanitarian Award from the Woburn Business Association and the 2020 Klein Tools Electrician of the Year from the national tool company based in Illinois.
And the legend of Gloria’s Gladiators was cemented.
The students listened intently. Baker had been telling them since they had arrived at Nashoba Tech that electricians can make a difference in people’s lives, and here was a perfect story to illustrate what he meant. The students got it. They understood that what Kinney had done for one elderly woman was, perhaps, a small deed, but one that affected so many people.
Baker reached out to Kinney to see if he would come to Nashoba Tech to talk to the students, and on Friday, Feb. 26, Kinney found himself standing in the middle of the school gym, telling his story to about 45 students and taking questions from them.
“This was the first time I’ve done something like this,” said Kinney, 37, who owns Kinney Electric in Woburn, after talking to the students. “I want to keep going with it. This was a lot of fun. They’ve got some good students here. They asked a lot of good questions.”
Kinney was impressed that a lot of the students — and Baker and his fellow Electrical Technology students — were wearing Kinney Electric or Gloria’s Gladiators T-shirts. He said he’s working on getting nonprofit status for the charity and helping more people upgrade their homes.
He was also happy to see how many students at Nashoba Tech, are considering entering the electrical field.
“Every year, for 10 electricians retiring, only seven are coming in to replace them,” he said. “We need these kids.”
Baker said Kinney is a perfect representative of the electrical trade.
“The kids were really engaged,” Baker said. “None of the kids were on their phones, a lot of them asked questions. Here was a person who happens to be an electrician and he helps people all the time in the trade.”
Baker noted that the school uses Klein tools so that was a good tie-in for the kids as well.
For more information on Gloria’s Gladiators, visit gloriasgladiators.com.