Legendary Missoula Organizations Support Skilled Workers


As Missoula and the entire nation face a shortage of skilled workers, two local organizations are coming together to support non-traditional students seeking education in the trade industries.

Drew Mihelish of Western Montana Lighting and Carolyn Maier of The Silver Foundation are offering a scholarship to support one Missoula College student pursing a degree in the Sustainable Construction Technology Program.

Beginning in 2018, the Silver Light Scholarship will provide one non-traditional student $1,000 per semester to apply toward their tuition at Missoula College. Anyone can apply, and past high school or higher education grades are not a limiting factor.

As Maier says, “The scholarship is not about a student’s performance in the past. We want to provide support for people who want to write or re-write their future by going into the building industry.”

The original location of Western Montana Lighting in Downtown Missoula.

Mihelish and Maier agree that supporting our local, sustainable building industry is the best way to create more work opportunities for middle-class Missoulians, bolster the local economy for the long-term, and show gratitude for the community’s support of both organizations over the years.

Western Montana Lighting celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2017 and The Silver Foundation will mark its 20th anniversary in 2018, and the scholarship is being established, in part, to honor those milestones.

The Silver Foundation was established by Morris and Helen Silver, who owned the Big Broadway Store and Modern Plumbing, to benefit the residents of the Missoula area. As business owners, the Silvers had a long-standing relationship with both Western Montana Lighting and the Missoula building industry. The scholarship will continue this relationship and their mutual legacy of building community throughout Missoula.

The Big Broadway Store was established by Morris and Helen Silver.

Mihelish wanted to acknowledge Western Montana Lighting’s success is directly tied to local support by the Missoula community. “I felt it necessary to find a way to give back to the community while also supporting the local building industry. It’s important to thank those who have kept my business in motion for over 100 years,” she says.

Western Montana Lighting’s contribution comes from a portion of the proceeds from its annual spring and fall sales, and will be a renewable, ongoing opportunity each year. The Silver Foundation contribution will provide scholarships to more than one student starting in the fall semester of 2018.

For more information on the scholarship, please contact:

Clint Reading
Associate Dean, Missoula College
(406) 243-7801