What a magical night it was! On November 30, 2018, community members gathered at Lake Granbury Conference Center to not only support Forward Training Center of Hood County, but learn about the mission and give with selfless hearts towards a common goal to improve the community we call home.

Forward Training Center has started the annual tradition to host the “It’s a Wonderful Life” gala fundraiser each winter, partnering with United Way of Hood County. Being a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, this is our largest and most impactful fundraising event for the entire year. This year was the best year yet. We were blessed with over 300 attendees, many of which who were impactful leaders in our community.

The evening transitioned from a lovely meal, an exciting silent and live auction, jaw-dropping performances by Danny Wright, the Texas Boys Choir, and Symphony Orchestra, and ending the night moving stories of impact. The mission was embodied, and the Lord was served. A common goal filled the air: to help raise awareness, continue the impact of FTC and further its reach in the Granbury community.

Katy Offutt, FTC Founder and Executive Director, opened up the evening with some words on what the importance of giving hearts in the Granbury community, and the beginnings of Forward Training Center.

“During my work at Stonewater Church, people would come in with very serious needs right in our community,” Katy said. “Some of what we saw is what we can call generational poverty. Each generation keeps staying there, without any way to break. If you look at the statistics, you’ll find that even if someone works tirelessly while living in generational poverty, it’s still three to five years before they have a chance to break the cycle. This is no easy task.”

The need for the programs and classes were so evident and clear to the staff at Stonewater. Katy went on to explain the heart-wrenching feeling of watching members of your own community and church go through these life difficulties.

“There is also situational poverty, which is often a rough patch that many people go through,” Katy said. “It is like not being able to breathe, seeing people in our own community feel like they have no way out from where they are. What Stonewater  Church did, and now what we are doing with Forward Training Center, is that we aren’t satisfied with the cycle in our community. These are wonderful people, with wonderful skills, made by a wonderful Creator, who deserve more.”

The program quickly started growing larger than anyone had anticipated, proving its need and impact in the community we all know and love.

“We brought the Jobs for Life program to Stonewater Church, which is a biblical practical skills program,” said Katy. “It soon grew out of Stonewater, into the community and joined Christian Women’s Job Corp. Soon after, we realized that men needed these opportunities, too. Thus we changed the name to Forward Training Center of Hood County.”

Hundreds of students have gone through the various classes offered at FTC, growing in more ways than originally thought possible by its founders.

“When we now look at our students coming into the classes to start, and leaving upon graduation, we see lives transformed and prospectives changed,” Katy said. “They leave knowing they are loved, valuable, talented, and ready for meaningful employment in their lives. This is the root of what we do at the Center with all of our classes and programs. If you see the movie, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ you remember the man who was at the end of his rope. This community is like the city in the movie, we surround people we love and what we believe in. I want you to think about why we call this event the ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ gala; it’s because we believe everyone deserves a wonderful life.”

We want to extend our most sincere thanks to our sponsors and partners, our generous attendees, giving volunteers, and hardworking staff who made this night, and furthermore, this organization possible. We hope everyone had as much fun as we did. You are changing lives!