Really BIG Raffle offers NIC carpentry students hands-on experience



Posted on May 20, 2014 at 6:04 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 20 at 6:43 PM

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho—The Really BIG Raffle gives more than just a free house to a lucky winner. It also gives North Idaho College students a chance to get some on the job experience.

College officials said the carpentry program was successful. They said the raffle played a big part in the success. The officials added that just about everyone who helped build the homes left the program with a job.

PHOTOS: Public gets sneak peak at NIC's Really BIG Raffle prize home

Five years after Matt Piekarski had built his first house for the program, he owned a contracting business and became an assistant professor with the program.

"I learned more here," said Piekarski. "I was kind of like I thought I knew everything. And when I got here, I realized I didn't know enough as I needed.”

School officials estimated around 90% of students left the program with jobs already lined up.

"We are the only one in Idaho. This last year we had students come from Washington DC and South Dakota. And next year it looks like we have students coming from California,” said Piekarski.

Another student graduated from the program on Saturday and had already started a construction company. Zane Froehlich was also in the business of flipping homes. He said it was a process he  was better at because of the work he did on the raffle‘s home.

"Before, we'd hire all that out and get a contractor in there that would cost us some extra profit that we could have had in our own pocket. This way, I can do pretty much all the work that's allowed. And it saves us a lot of money and a lot of time too,” said Froehlich.

There was still a chance to win the raffle on Tuesday.