Westmont Magazine A Heart for Helping People
Like many young boys, Kirk Robinson ’99 wanted to be a firefighter. Unlike most college students, he never abandoned his childhood goal. Within months of graduating with a degree in kinesiology, he became an auxiliary firefighter at Mercer Island Fire in Washington, where he also earned certification as an emergency medical technician (EMT). Less than two years later, he found a full-time job with Bothell Fire Department in Washington, where he continues to serve.
His professional career began just months before Sept. 11. Three weeks after the attacks on New York, he volunteered to work at Ground Zero for six days. “I went there without a clue about what we would do,” he says. “We attended memorials and funerals and removed debris in the pit — it was so quiet there out of respect for the people who died. Remains were treated with such great care.” It bothered him that New Yorkers insisted on paying for all his meals. “I went there to help, and everyone wanted to help me,” he says.
Helping people is important to Kirk. “Being a firefighter is about the kind of person you are, not what you do,” he says. “The nature of the job is helping others. I like the fact that when bad things happen, I can be there to help.”
Kirk also enjoys working with his hands. “I’m a fix-it kind of person,” he says. He did carpentry and odd jobs in high school, which came in handy when he participated in Potter’s Clay. He returns to Ensenada each spring as a contractor and even went to Mexico with men from his church to build a home for a family. “I speak Spanish and have a real heart for missions to Mexico,” he says.
Days before Kirk and his wife, Jessie, were scheduled to visit Westmont (she had never been to campus), Katrina blasted the Gulf Coast. Kirk put aside his plans and volunteered to do relief work for 30 days. Lacking specific directions, he did anything he could: removing fallen trees, opening access to damaged homes, identifying those most in need of housing and assistance. Kirk was pleased to see Larry Coots ’99, a Long Beach firefighter, among the volunteers. “It was very difficult, but also very rewarding to do nothing but help people for 30 days,” he says. “It made us appreciate what we have. People were really happy to see us and were so hospitable — they had nothing and were still trying to make us coffee. It was a blessing to be there.”