Lonney Steeves is involved with children from the time they start playing sports through high school and adulthood. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

If Lonney Steeves measured success, it would be through the smiles of the children participating in the programs he manages.

“When I see kids just smiling and laughing and having fun and participating,” Steeves said, “that is when I know what we are doing a good thing.”

Steeves, 60, has been Winthrop’s director of the YMCA and recreation department, a one-man gig, for 36 years, and he has been a coach at the schools in various capacities for 32 years. 

“His long-standing and ongoing contributions to our youth and community have made him an extraordinary member of the Winthrop family,” said Winthrop Town Council Chairwoman Sarah Fuller.

Steeves’ primary responsibility is running the town’s youth programs, including the after-school program at Winthrop Grade School, which offers academic enrichment, healthy snacks and a chance to play. 

“That kind of stuff is what makes me happy,” Steeves said. “I take great pride in what we offer – stuff that the community needed.”

He is also the director of the YMCA’s Maine Youth in Government program, which gives teens hands-on experience learning about the legislative process.

“(Youth in Government) teaches students about civics and the value of being an engaged member of the community throughout their lives,” said Fuller.

It is the connections in the community Steeves has made that Winthrop resident Eileen Nuzzo admires. 

“He is like a big daddy to all these kids,” Nuzzo said.

The town just completed its youth soccer and field hockey season, and the high school students practiced with the elementary school kids. 

“That has created this unbelievable synergy of young kids getting to see role models in the sports they like to play,” Steeves said. 

That translates to young children coming to the games and looking forward to when they can coach younger students, he said.

“Lonney has … been a champion for Winthrop’s youth on and off the playing fields,” Fuller said. “Generations have benefited from these programs.”

Steeves said that he was in a coaches’ meeting two years ago, and of the 60 adults in the room, he recognized 20 who had participated in his programs when they were little kids. 

Nuzzo described how when a woman who grew up in Winthrop was in a “terrible (car) accident,” Steeves went to her new home in New Hampshire to see how she was healing.

“Lonney has really been part of the (community) from preschool all the way up to high school,” Nuzzo said. “He reconnects with the kids through their college careers” into their adult lives. 

She said her son is one of those students. Now 43, he remains in touch with Steeves. 

“He continues to be interested in every one one of these kids,” Nuzzo said. “They still contact him and let him know what is going on, which I find amazing. We are talking about lots of generations.”

Steeves says he encounters residents now, whom he coached in high school, who want to coach and be involved. 

“I take pride in the fact that we have fostered the volunteer spirit in the community,” he said.

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