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A Forever Recovery at the 2016 Cereal Festival and the World’s Longest Breakfast Table

An annual tradition in Battle Creek, MI, the Cereal Festival honors the city’s history as home to some of the world’s leading producers of cereal and breakfast foods

The primary role that we fulfill at A Forever Recovery is the treatment of those individuals who come to our substance abuse rehabilitation center seeking help in overcoming their addictions. However, we realize that, if we are to be a truly effective force in the battle against drug and alcohol abuse that rages on in our schools, neighborhoods, and homes, our work must not begin and end at our doors. There is much more that we can and should do in an effort to make our world a healthier and more positive place.

Our commitment to helping people find a better way of life is partially fulfilled through our frequent participation in community outreach events. Supporting the residents of the area that we call “home” is just as important as helping people overcome addiction. The real fight against substance abuse is outside the halls of our recovery center, where addiction begins. Treatment of addiction is vital to the survival of the individual, but strengthening our communities and their residents is how we can stop addiction before it starts. We achieve this by showing people, especially our youth, that there is hope in positivity, and that there are healthy and productive alternatives to using drugs or alcohol.

Recently, we joined several other businesses and organizations in our local area as sponsor of the 2016 Battle Creek Cereal Festival featuring the World’s Longest Breakfast Table. This annual tradition is held in honor of the long history that Battle Creek, MI, where our treatment center is located, has as home to some of the world’s leading producers of breakfast cereal and other products. This claim to fame is such a part of Battle Creek’s history that the Official Municipal Seal has the phrase “Breakfast Capital of the World”, and it is often lovingly referred to as “Cereal City”. It is no surprise that the city would host a festival that honors this history.

On Friday, June 10, 2016, the Cereal Festival was kicked off with a parade that made its way through downtown Battle Creek. A Forever Recovery patients and staff participated in the parade, marching behind a banner that read “Strength In Numbers” with the hashtag #CountTheDays underneath. They all held up signs that had numbers, signifying the number of days that they had been clean and sober up to that point. The crowd that was gathered to watch the parade offered the patients some extra encouragement in overcoming their addiction is the form of raucous applause. “My number was 32 on Friday,” said Sean M., one of the patients at AFR who participated in the Cereal Festival parade. “I was very proud to hold that up. It made me feel really good, all the people clapping for me. It was awesome. It reassured me of my progress and the strides I’ve been making.”

Saturday morning saw the setup and hosting of what is probably local resident’s favorite part of the entire Cereal Festival, the World’s Longest Breakfast Table. Resident and visitors join each other at a table setup in the heart of Downtown Battle Creek to sample some of the products of those cereal producers that are based here in our hometown. Volunteers from A Forever Recovery were on hand to help serve cereal, refresh fruit and milk, and keep our section of the table clean and ready for the next group of hungry visitors.

We also hosted a sponsorship booth, where AFR staff members were present to answer any questions that people may have had about addiction, recovery, and treatment options. At the booth, we held a contest where visitors were invited to try and guess how many Fruit Loops were in a glass jar that was sitting on our table. The winner of the contest, a young lady named Britanni Rose, actually guessed the number right on the nose, which was 1,111. She was treated to a gift basket filled with items that promote a healthy and active lifestyle. “The gift basket consisted of a FitBit, dumbbells, a yoga pad,” explained AFR patient Jennifer M., one of the volunteers at the World’s Longest Breakfast Table, “just things to encourage people to get out and work on their fitness.”

Our participation in the Battle Creek Cereal Festival and the World’s Longest Breakfast Table was not only about community activism. The patients that participated also learned that it is possible to enjoy life, and to appreciate the things that life has to offer us, without using drugs or alcohol. They found that through making life better for others, their own lives are drastically improved. Participating in functions like this one help them to find the motivation to continue on the often-difficult path to recovery from addiction. “It gave me a lot of encouragement to stay sober and keep going,” Jennifer says of her experience.

At A Forever Recovery, we have a long history of community support events, including fundraisers for Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the American Cancer Society as well as sponsoring academic scholarships and funding youth athletic camps. We understand that supporting our local residents is just as important in the fight against addiction as the effective treatment program that we offer at our rehabilitation center. Through these and other community outreach efforts, we strive to be a source of hope and inspiration for all.

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