ALBANY, N.Y. -- Long after the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition cameras and crew have gone home Capital Communications Federal Credit Union is still doing its part to ensure the Oatman-Gaitan family has a true fresh start.
The $511 million credit union recently joined forces with Amedore Homes and others in the community to be a part of the popular ABC television show's Capital Region project.
"When the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team mentioned they were looking for a financial backer, one of our members who was coordinating local efforts immediately thought of us since our foundation does so much work with the community," said Capital Communications Cares Foundation Coordinator/Board Vice Chairman Robert Bascom. "The hardest part was keeping it a secret from employees until the family was notified."
On March 22, Ty Pennington and the rest of the Extreme Makeover team shouted "Good Morning, Oatman-Gaitan family." It was the wake up call Debbie Oatman and her four sons had been hoping for. The single mother, who opened her heart and home to adopt three HIV positive children, was faced with a home that was literally sinking into the ground. Given her children's delicate immune systems, their home had become a death trap--with a balance due on the mortgage. Working with local builder Amedore Homes, Capital Communications FCU made an initial donation of $50,000 to the project.
"Making a difference is not always just about writing a check. We constantly look for ways that we can roll up our sleeves and really get involved in a project. We have found that taking that extra step is so often what really makes a profound impact," said CCFCU President/CEO Paula Stopera.
To that end, along with the monetary donation, the credit union also pledged volunteer and staff resources. Staffers have been taking donations over the phone on a special Extreme Home Hotline, and worked for 36 straight hours helping the construction crew and design team get the house completed in just seven days.
"It has been a fantastic experience from beginning to end. The credit union volunteers did everything from bringing donuts and coffee to getting their hands dirty helping wherever they were needed," said Bascom. "What's interesting is the family's own financial institution--a banking giant I won't name--wouldn't do anything to help with the existing loan they held. That is why the credit union was especially pleased that we successfully raised enough money to pay off the family's existing mortgage. It is a true fresh start for them."
Bascom adds that the volunteer effort was really a total joint community effort.
"The outpouring of support for this family was amazing," said Bascom. "We kept hearing from the Extreme Makeover team that this community has been the most giving. They actually had to turn people away. They needed 1,500 and 5,000 people showed up. The local businesses here pitched in providing the family with scholarships, free groceries for a year anything to help this family. The key now is to keep that momentum going."
Capital Communications FCU will continue to accept donations for the Oatman-Gaitan family through its Web site and hotline (888) 333-9009 through May 28 to help with other expenses including medical bills to help make all the local family's dreams come true.
"Sponsoring this initiative is something that falls perfectly in line with our mission as a credit union--'People Helping People'," adds Stopera. "We have always had a strong sense of commitment to our community and we were honored to be asked to help with such a worthwhile cause, especially with a family that lives right in our backyard."
The segment is slated to air as the season finale on Sunday, May 20. --firstname.lastname@example.org