Time Flies When You’re Having Fun: Harbor Cruise to Celebrate Forterus 10-Year Anniversary
“It went by so fast!” says alumni concierge Nicole Vasquez of the event. Her sentiments were echoed by other AAC representatives attending the 3-hour cruise. Alumni Manager Carla Fremlin chose the Hornblower cruise venue to kick off alumni outreach in So Cal, rallying the alums with a phone and email campaign. The cruise was formative step in a comprehensive plan to make sure all AAC facilities have a vital, supportive alumni community to offer those leaving treatment.
The over-150 attendees included alumni from many AAC facilities and a diverse contingent of staff members from Forterus, including Jerrod Menz. On top of wildly successful attendance numbers, the cruise couldn’t have been more perfect: A wide age spread engaged in activities, from site-seeing to music sharing. The classy Hornblower yacht and crew presented as pristine and proud. A sea lion followed the spacious yacht as it eased through sunlit aquamarine waters on a 78-degree day.
AAC photographer Perry Jenkins found himself running up and down stairs and dashing from starboard to port, trying to catch it all in images for future AAC marketing.
“The background was changing so quickly,” says Jenkins. Those backdrops included the San Diego skyline, the winding Coronado Bridge, a host of sailboats and barges, and the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.
Among the formal activities, Menz, who founded Forterus with Josie Gann and Charles Anderson, gave an inspiring welcome. Alumni, friends, and family ate from a bottomless buffet, concluding with gourmet cupcakes piled high in frosting and topped with Forterus logos and “10 years.”
But the real success of the event came in the form of hugs, health and sobriety on the faces of alums, and the sounds of “hey dude!” as long-lost friends in recovery reconnected. The years of sobriety were displayed in happy families and healthy careers and a clear demonstration that sobriety can be just plain, wholesome fun. And a continual stream of heartwarming moments filled the decks as alums thanked members of the Forterus team, from clinicians to drivers, for playing a part in their sobriety.
“You think people who work in treatment programs would hear a lot of feedback from the people they’ve helped,” Fremlin says. “They don’t.” For the alums, this 10th anniversary opportunity to tell key staff members “thank-you” was equally gratifying, Fremlin says. “These are the people who saved their lives.”
The bonds and reconnections formed during the cruise spilled beyond those three scenic hours on the Bay. After the cruise, the harborside lawn was covered with games of Frisbee and groups of AAC alums lingering, not wanting the day to end.
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