Extreme Tuition: Siena to pay for college for Oatman-Gaitan children

Apparently staff at Siena College's admissions department are fans of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

After learning that the show would be building a new home for a Colonie family, calls were made to administrators and in less than a half hour the decision was made.

All four of Debbie Oatman-Gaitan's children will be offered full scholarships to the Loudonville private college.

"It was a decision made by (College) President the Rev. Kevin Mackin on the recommendation of the admissions office," said Noel Hogan, vice president for enrollment and planning at the college. "Friar Kevin said why wouldn't we do it. It's exactly what Siena College is all about. That was it."

At approximately 3 p.m. today, Friday, March 23, Hogan called Amedore Homes, the general contractor for the build, and bestowed their donation.

Tuition at Siena is currently $22,510 a year.

The donation reflects the mission of the Catholic and Franciscan College, said Hogan.

Since the show's production staff greeted the Oatman-Gaitan family on the morning of Thursday, March 23, corporate sponsors, volunteers and donations have been coming in from throughout the area, said Peter Guidarelli, Amedore Homes spokesman.

There are currently more than 1,500 volunteers whose donations include feeding staff and volunteers, demolition work, general construction and pool installation. The family's old home is scheduled to be demolished at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 24, to make room for a new upscale home equipped with amenities. The keys to the home will be turned over to the family on Thursday, March 29.

Oatman-Gaitan lives on Fairway Lane off Consaul Road, north of The Town of Colonie Golf Course.

According to Amedore Homes' website, in 1987, Debbie Oatman became a very untraditional single mother when she adopted an HIV-positive baby. When she learned that another HIV positive child and his biological brother needed a home, Oatman didn't hesitate to bring them into her family.

The family's home was built on a poor foundation near to state wetlands. Slowly sinking into the ground, the home's walls have begun to shift and crack.


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