By Chris Lisinski
DRACUT -- Barbara Lane's commute got a lot shorter.
The Winchester resident had long thought about moving closer to UMass Lowell, where she works as the assistant director of transfer admissions, but for one reason or another, the time was never quite right.
That is, until she bought a $100 ticket for a Megan House Foundation raffle, mostly wanting to support the organization's efforts to raise awareness about substance abuse -- and with it won a brand-new house in Dracut.
"This is beyond what I can imagine," Lane said. "It's a feeling I can't describe."
Lane receives full ownership of the 2,200-square-foot Gumpus Road home, which came with an acre of property. Among the benefits of the house: her drive to work will be slashed from 45 minutes to 7 minutes.
During a recent tour of the house, Lane was humble about the experience and said several times that the Megan House Foundation is the real star of the story.
"It's so important that the focus be on women who do not have another option for support," Lane said.
The foundation first acquired the Gumpus Road property as a larger parcel to build Erin's House, one of its two homes for women fighting substance-abuse issues. It commissioned the constructions of five homes in all and sold four, setting Lane's house aside to be given away in a raffle.
Several other businesses and organizations from the Greater Lowell area pitched in to help with the home.
Debbe Daley Design offered furniture, Lowell Central Electric provided lighting, and Reeds Ferry Sheds built a shed in the backyard.
Over six months, the foundation sold almost 5,000 raffle tickets at $100 apiece, hoping to use the occasion to raise awareness about its programs and the larger opioid epidemic.
"That was the goal, and it worked out perfectly," said Teddy Panos, director of development and communications for Megan House Foundation.
As the raffle unfolded, one of Lane's friends called her, screaming. "You won the house!" she said.
That friend, who asked that her name not be used, attended the tour of the house and offered a simple refrain for the events that unfolded: "It was meant to be."
Lane is not yet certain when she will move into the new house full time, but she and her three sons, Will, 27, Rob, 22, and Teddy, 18, look forward to the occasion.
She toured the house with representatives of Megan House Foundation and Dracut Town Manager Jim Duggan. At one point, Megan House Executive Director Kathleen McDonald called everyone over to pose for a picture in front of the gas fireplace, which, even at this early point, was crackling.
"This," McDonald said, looking around, "is going to be a nice place to live."
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisLisinski. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.