by Lauren Pope
Gary Corban spent two years renovating a home he thought would one day house his dream: a place where “broken men could find redemption.” He quit his job as youth minister at The Rock Church in Zachary to dedicate his time to fixing up the property. After years of blood, sweat, and tears, he heard God whisper, “This isn’t the place.”
A few weeks later, he received a phone call from a woman who he’d spoken to seven years earlier. She told him about a property with over 6,000 square feet and 18 rooms – the perfect place to build The Forge, which Corban describes as “ so much more than a sober living house.”
Closing on the property took nearly a year, but ultimately the proceeds from the sale of that first house that he spent so much time renovating enabled him to purchase it.
He bought the building at the end of 2020 and almost immediately welcomed the first cohort of men into the house. Men who come to The Forge come from a variety of situations. Some are young men who have left home without a high school diploma or parental support. Corban typically recommends these men to programs such as The National Guard’s Youth Challenge, which is “a community-based program that leads, trains and mentors 16-18 year olds so that they may become productive citizens in America’s future.”
Older men may come to The Forge after completing drug rehab or being released from prison. Others arrive experiencing joblessness and homelessness.
Whatever path leads them to The Forge, Corban and his team of support staff assist each man with finding employment, training, and banking opportunities.
Corban relies on a vast network of trusted employers with whom he’s cultivated lasting relationships.
“The men aren’t asking for a handout, they’re looking for ways to become honorably employed,” he said.
The word “honor” isn’t just a buzzword. It’s part of the ethos and identity of The Forge.
The men have occasionally been tested through situations like lost wallets or cash accidentally left in donated items. Each time, they’ve stepped up and made the right decision, and, in the process, have been transformed in people’s minds from “those people” to “my people.”
The number one way people can support his ministry is by giving the men of The Forge employment opportunities, Corban said. Number two is donating their time to help with things “in their lane” like financial counseling or nutritional advice. Those who are more inclined towards financial support can donate via venmo @theforgela.
In this broken world full of hurting people, a place like The Forge offers a lifeline out of addiction and despair. “There’s a whole wide world of beauty out there,” Corban said. ‘We’re just trying to open their eyes so they can see it.”