MISSOULA – University of Montana student Mark Spring is a volunteer who gets things done.
His commitment was recognized recently when he became one of 14 college students to receive the Montana Student Volunteer Award from the Office of the Governor and the Campus Compact board. College students across Montana invest time, energy and passion in their communities, and the award recognizes those civic contributions.
After a 35-year career in hotel management, Spring retired and took an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (MOLLI) course at UM’s Davison Honors College, studying ethical wills. This sparked an interest to enroll at UM to study gerontology. He is now a junior in the honors college, working toward a bachelor’s in multidisciplinary studies and minors in gerontology and nonprofit administration.
“I knew I wanted to be of service to people of my own generation,” Spring said. “As I started looking around at what was getting done and not getting done in the senior community, I realized what a vital role nonprofits play.”
Passionate about the social side of gerontology, Spring signed up for the nonprofit administration minor program in UM’s Department of Public Administration and Policy to find ways to pursue meaningful work in that area.
“Whether I go to work for a nonprofit or identify a need in the senior community that is not being met by a nonprofit organization or the government, I want the ability to be able to set up a nonprofit, serve that need and be effective,” Spring said. “When I leave school, I want to hit the ground running. Nonprofit administration, I believe, will make it possible for me to fulfill those goals I have in gerontology.”
Spring completed an internship with the YWCA Pathways Program for his nonprofit administration minor, dedicating himself to this position over three months.
“During his internship for the nonprofit administration minor, Mark’s work was intense,” said Ben Hamman, DPAP public education manager. “He committed himself to his position, attending every training and counseling session the YWCA offered. Mark exemplifies the value of serving the public interest, and he understands the power inherent in service and uses his passion and voice to improve the lives of others.”
During his internship at the YWCA, Spring discovered the organization had received a grant for an elder abuse office in Missoula but had not had time to set it up. Spring and a nonprofit administration classmate were able to establish the office while also fulfilling the service-learning portion of a nonprofit course.
“Mark Spring is an exceptional student,” said Dr. Sara Rinfret, acting dean in UM’s Blewett School of Law and head of DPAP. “He goes above and beyond helping others. We are incredibly proud of his work, and this is a well-deserved award for his commitment to public service.”
Spring recently accepted a part-time elder abuse advocacy position with the YWCA that will run for the next two years. He also volunteers for the UM Basic Needs Committee, the UM Food Pantry, the Missoula Senior Center and the YWCA Abuse in Later Life program. In addition, he is president and a new board member for the UM Gerontology Society.
Spring encourages his fellow students to identify something they love, give four hours a week to it as a volunteer and see where that takes them.
“It doesn’t matter what it is, there’s always opportunity to help,” said Spring.
For more information visit the Campus Compact website at https://mtcompact.org/.
Contact: Andi Armstrong, director of marketing and communications, UM Alexander Blewett III School of Law, 406-243-6509, firstname.lastname@example.org.