NIC Foundation’s Really BIG Raffle celebrates 25 years

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  • The very first Really BIG Raffle home winner, Pat Reagan, left, is congratulated by Steve Schenk, former NIC Foundation executive director, in 1994. (Courtesy photo)

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    NIC Foundation director, Rayelle Anderson, calls the ticket numbers for an early bird prize during the Really Big Raffle in 2011. (Press file)

  • The very first Really BIG Raffle home winner, Pat Reagan, left, is congratulated by Steve Schenk, former NIC Foundation executive director, in 1994. (Courtesy photo)

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    NIC Foundation director, Rayelle Anderson, calls the ticket numbers for an early bird prize during the Really Big Raffle in 2011. (Press file)

Get your Really BIG Raffle tickets

Tickets can be ordered online at:

www.nic.edu/rbr

Or, they can be purchased at the following North Idaho locations:

NIC Foundation, Main Campus

NIC Workforce Training Center

Super 1 Foods stores

Stein’s Family Foods stores

Yoke’s Fresh Market

Buck Knives

BMC (Building Materials and Construction Solutions)

In Post Falls, carpentry students are hard at work building someone’s dream home.

They just don’t know whose yet.

For 25 years, the North Idaho College Foundation has offered a new home as the grand prize in its Really BIG Raffle.

Located in Greenstone Homes’ newest neighborhood, North Place, this year’s home has an estimated value of $300,000. And it’s more than just a raffle prize: The home is a learning laboratory for the North Idaho College carpentry program.

Each year, between September and May, carpentry students build the grand-prize home, getting first hand experience in the process. Raffle ticket sales fund the learning lab for the next year, and also support NIC Foundation Scholarships.

“It’s an important partnership,” said Rayelle Anderson, the Foundation’s executive director. “It provides a hands-on learning opportunity for the students. It also gives our community a chance to see what value NIC students are bringing to the community with skilled trades.”

Anderson has been with the NIC Foundation for 26 years. She’s seen the impact of the raffle since its inception.

“Through the Really BIG Raffle, the North Idaho College Foundation is able to help thousands of students go to school and experience a quality education,” she said. “It’s been a privilege to be part of that.”

Matt Piekarski, carpentry and construction technology instructor, said the raffle has forged a symbiotic relationship between the community and the program: Each one benefits the other.

“The community is sponsoring our program— in a way, sponsoring the students,” he said. “And in return, we’re training individuals for the workforce. There’s huge demand right now. Some of my guys want to start their own businesses, which benefits the community, too, because it keeps them here.”

As an instructor, Piekarski said it’s gratifying to watch his students improve their skills while working on the house: building the foundation, framing the house and roof, tackling the interior trim. Between September and May, he notices a real difference.

“We start with people who’ve never touched a saw in their life, and at the end of the year, they’re turning out a house,” he said. “It’s a cool progression.”

Building a house from the ground up is a rare and valuable learning opportunity for carpentry students.

“The hands-on aspect is phenomenal,” said Caleb Gerig, a first-year student in the construction management program. “Being able to practice what you’re learning in the classroom, apply it in a real sense, has been one of the best parts of the program.”

In addition to the grand prize, entrants have the chance to win four other major prizes, valued at up to $20,000. “Early birds” who purchase tickets or mail their orders before Monday, April 30, will also qualify to win one of two $1,000 Costco gift cards. Only 5,500 raffle tickets will be sold.

“We have sold out every year and we expect to sell out again,” Anderson said. “We encourage people to buy their tickets early.”

Winners will be drawn July 18.

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