Mark Stevens, director of Lisbon Parks and Recreation, sits in his office Tuesday afternoon at the MTM Community Center after receiving the Maine Recreation & Park Association’s William V. Haskell Distinguished Professional of the Year award Monday. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

LISBON — Parks and Recreation Director Mark Stevens received the Maine Recreation & Park Association’s William V. Haskell Distinguished Professional of the Year award Monday in Augusta.

The award, the highest for those in his profession, left Stevens feeling there were more deserving parks and recreation directors, many of whom have spent more years at the job.

Despite the presence of his family and Police Chief Ryan Chief McGee, who presented the award, Stevens said he had a moment of relief when he considered the award might not be meant for him.

“But then people started congratulating me and it started becoming real,” Stevens said. “I’m very grateful, and — you know, I have the best job. I really believe that I have the best job in the world … When you’re interacting with people all day long, problem solving and you’re creating opportunities for people to have better lives, it doesn’t feel like work.”

In their nomination letter, Assistant Director Kate Madore and Administrative Assistant Jennifer Willey highlighted the merits of his character and 30 years of the department’s achievements and contributions to the community under his leadership.

When Stevens was hired to head the department in 1993, offices were in a back closet of the Philip W. Sugg Middle School, they said. Composed of six full-time, 20 part-time and dozens of seasonal employees, and an $800,000 budget, the department runs after-school programs, seniors’ programs, sports programs, large festivals, a community center, a 330-acre park, several miles of trails and more. The department also accommodates groups, clubs and events that bring the community together, they said.


“In the thirty years since he figured out how a few football pads can stretch across an eager but underfunded middle school team, the … department has become for our town a giant kitchen table of sorts,” the nomination letter read. “(We) serve thousands of our citizens a year, the youngest and oldest in our town, rich and poor, world-class athletes and average kids who just need someone to believe in them a little while. And it’s happened at his hands.”

McGee reflected on 22 years of working together to make Lisbon a great place to live. He said Stevens has brought his department to the next level, would take the shirt off his back to help someone in need and always goes the extra mile to help families.

“Lisbon is a great community with wonderful people and it’s wonderful to have the programs that Mark offers for the community,” McGee said.

While the Parks and Recreation Department has improved greatly during his tenure as director, Stevens credits its achievements to the people he works with.

“Oftentimes, I joke about being the Tom Brady of Lisbon because he gets all the credit, but, really, does he do all the work?  Stevens said. “Can you tell me who the center is that gives him the ball every day? Most people can’t. He takes the ball that’s given to him, and he gives it to somebody else. He’s just the middleman.

“So, I don’t do all the work,” he said. “It’s all my staff … I’m really surrounded with some amazing people.”

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