Mike Spainhour lost his job, but not his willingness to give

Mike Spainhour put his construction industry contacts to work building a miniature golf course for Opportunity Village’s Magical Forest.
Photo: Steve Marcus

For 16 years, Mike Spainhour was a serious player in the construction world as vice president of the Marnell Companies, involved with not only several phases of work at the Rio and McCarran International Airport but with the last three Cirque du Soleil theaters—those of Zumanity, and Love. “I worked in just about every casino in town,” Spainhour remembers. “The Forum Shops Phases 1 and 2 were mine.”

Those heady days came to an end this November, when Spainhour was laid off, another victim of the construction industry collapse in Las Vegas. The big paycheck, the lavish lifestyle, the prestige all came to an abrupt end.

But one thing didn’t change—Spainhour’s commitment to his favorite nonprofit, Opportunity Village. “I’ve been involved with them since 1996, helping with construction projects, and I’ve been on the foundation board for the last seven years.”

Before being laid off, Spainhour donated 10 hours a week for any area of need. Since being laid off, he has been donating 20 hours a week, using the contacts he established over his years in construction to get a six-hole miniature golf course built for the organization. “We got the design of the golf course donated by a local putting green company, the grading was donated by another company, the concrete, the turf ... everything that you see out there was donated.”

None of that would have been possible without the efforts of the 49-year-old Spainhour, who admits he could have been using that time volunteering to find another job. “I had projects we had started at Magical Forest before I got laid off, so I had a commitment there. Just because I wasn’t working doesn’t mean I’d just walk away from the promises I made to those people.

“What really got to me this year was that I had to tell the Opportunity Village board I was going to have to resign. It costs money to stay on the board, you see, and I just couldn’t afford to do that. So I went to the last board meeting and announced I would have to resign.

“I left, and a few hours later they called and said the whole board had gotten together after I left and pitched in to pay my dues. They said, ‘We couldn’t afford to lose you,’” Spainhour says.

And even though his commitment this year to the Magical Forest is fulfilled, Spainhour will continue to be available whenever needed—whether he finds a job or not. “My time will continue. In January they’re starting up a new construction committee, and I told them I’d go ahead and continue to help them do that.”

Spainhour says it’s more important than ever to stay involved in the nonprofit community. “It really helps our community and our state. Without it, I don’t know what people would do.”

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Magazine's managing editor, having previously served as associate editor at Las Vegas Weekly, assistant features ...

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