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Steve McKinnon: Working for the Lord

By ANNA MONICA / L’Observateur / September 2, 1998

The guitar has been a large part of Steve McKinnon’s life for at least 27 years, and he has been teaching guitar to others for about 14 years. A player at theprofessional level, McKinnon nonetheless practices every chance he gets, striving to improve more and more. This is one of the passions in his life, one that may presenthim with a bright future.

But actually there are others – his faith and underprivileged children.

McKinnon was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. His family moved to LaPlace 25years ago. He divided his time between here and Alaska and eventually settledpermanently in LaPlace. Before long, he was well involved with young people in thecommunity who needed more but had less. With a strong desire to do “work for theLord,” some of this work has included finding old bicycles and repairing them to give to kids who have none; finding shoes and clothes when they are needed; salvaging the self-esteem of a kid who had no new school clothes and gathering food where he could for those who had none.

For at least the past 10 years, McKinnon has transported children throughout the community to church, first by making several trips in his car and today driving a red church bus. To have them interested in religion is always a priority, but while thechildren are in his company McKinnon has a chance to give counsel and inspire their confidence.

The young people come from throughout the community in LaPlace and Reserve, the majority from government housing. Many have physical, mental, family and financialproblems, and McKinnon has a compassion for it all plus a special love for them.

A role model to the youngsters, who know they can trust and depend on him, McKinnon is often called upon for help by their families, too, when a difficult situation arises. He has never been known to shy away from a crisis without someeffort to make it better.

A main objective with McKinnon in working with underprivileged youngsters, he said, is to “give the kids a chance for a normal life.” Since some of the youngstershave never been outside of their own community, McKinnon struggled to get money to take them on several field trips, such as the aquarium and the zoo. Afterward, atrip to a dollar store was a highlight for the young people who normally never had a shopping trip of their own or money for it. McKinnon has a keen awareness andperception of the world they live in and what motivates them toward good or bad, and he wholeheartedly encourages them to stay in school. It is not unusual forMcKinnon himself to pick up a reluctant student and get him to school at a parent’s request.

On his “church bus” on Sunday mornings, McKinnon usually averages 20 regular students with a maximum sometimes of 30. Some have been riding the bus with himfor at least 10 years. The younger group attends children’s church and the older onesgo to a teen-age class. The kids get help in learning morals and anything else theycan to function in society.

Meanwhile, McKinnon writes as much music as he can find the time for and recently has been working with former Neville Brothers’ drummer Daryl “Prime Time” Winchester, now a producer. They are writing the music for a new network forDirect TV, which includes the theme music and all songs to be used on the station.

With God, music and youngsters ever on his mind and in his heart, Steve McKinnon undoubtedly will find a way to achieve his most persistent dream – that of saving the children with music. Since music is universal, he believes that by turning youngpeople away from negative music with bad influence in favor of music with a positive message, especially Christian music, lives can be changed. He keepsworking to make it happen.

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