For people in addiction recovery, this unique program offers hope and a healthy community.
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Stand Together

A decade ago, Todd and Kaley Jones couldn't imagine a life without drugs and alcohol.

When Kaley left a 9-month inpatient drug treatment program at age 19, she was terrified. She went digging through her makeup bags at home, hoping maybe she had stashed away some drugs so she could numb her fear. No luck.

Later, she walked into a 12-step meeting and saw a man wearing a t-shirt that said, "SOBER." Kaley was mortified. Why wasn't he embarrassed? Wasn't it a shameful thing to have had a drug or alcohol problem? But the man, Todd, wasn't ashamed. “He was happy and he was laughing," says Kaley, "and he told me about Phoenix."


Kaley and Todd Jones. All photos courtesy of The Phoenix.

The Phoenix is a sober community built around an active lifestyle. It was founded by Scott Strode back in 2006. Mountaineering and boxing played a huge role in Strode maintaining long-term sobriety, so he created a program that combines physical activity with a sober community.

Todd, who now manages the Colorado Springs chapter, was first sent to The Phoenix from a drug court judge's referral. "I had no idea what to do with myself when I first got sober," he says. "When I showed up at Phoenix, I had this tremendous sense of belonging. There were other people who were trying to do the next right thing for themselves like I was. I felt this tremendous sense of safety. And one of the strongest things was they were really excited that I was there, and welcomed me back."

But the program's strength is about more than a community of people who love sports. It shows its members they're capable of overcoming their obstacles. "When you tie into a climbing rope for the first time and make it to the top of the wall, it starts to make you feel like you can beat your addiction," Strode said in a YouTube video.

Kaley, who now serves as the National Engagement Officer for The Phoenix, says that many treatment programs focus on getting sober, but not on what comes next. The Phoenix answers the "what's next" question by providing empowering activities for people in recovery as well as understanding, supportive peers to do them with.

All Phoenix instructors are people in recovery themselves, and that community makes all the difference.

A Phoenix event might be anything from a rock climbing excursion to a weight lifting session to a cooking class. The only requirement for joining a Phoenix event is that you've been clean and sober for 48 hours. All events are free for individuals, including instruction and all necessary equipment. Participants are asked to sign a team member agreement, which says they will be inclusive and supportive of fellow team members, and that they are dedicated to a sober lifestyle.

Todd Jones

Kaley says they leave that last part vague on purpose. "We understand that sometimes people will relapse and they need to have a home to come back to. Things happen, and we're always going to be here no matter what their journey into recovery looks like."

Todd says that all Phoenix instructors are in recovery themselves, so they know what it's like to walk the journey to sobriety and can offer support through sharing their own lived experiences.

If an instructor in recovery can't be found, Kaley says they will always have a peer facilitator, "so that if someone does walk in with 48 hours sober, and they're terrified, and they don't know how to stay sober, there's someone right there who can say, 'I have walked that path. It takes courage to open the door and come in here. I'm glad you're here. This is what I did to stay sober,' and they can share that on an individual basis."

Phoenix programs are always free for individuals, thanks to donations, grants, and partnerships with organizations like Stand Together.

Thanks to support from Stand Together, a social change organization that supports the country's most innovative social entrepreneurs working to directly address the problems that cause poverty and homelessness, The Phoenix has been able to expand exponentially. Stand Together has worked with The Phoenix to secure funding, solidify and fine tune its business processes and scale the organization.

Kaley says scaling has been hugely important since The Phoenix has seen "explosive" growth in the past two years. In 2016, they were located in five cities. By the end of 2018, they'd expanded to 33 cities. "The reality that drug addiction and alcoholism is ravaging this country has become very apparent," says Kaley, "and we have a solution."

Kaley points out that 86% of Phoenix team members remain sober if they are consistently active in their programs, which is an impressive number. (According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the average relapse rate for substance abuse disorder is 40-60%.)

The Phoenix changed the course of Kaley and Todd's life—and thousands of others as well.

It's helped more than 26,000 people on their journey to and through sobriety. And each person brings their own unique story with them — recognizing and embracing that is also how the program fights the stigma of addiction. It's helping people realize that their unique experiences can be used to help other people find their identity in their new sober lifestyle.

Kaley says that joining The Phoenix drastically changed her perception of her own journey. "I met all of these other people who were enjoying their life and proudly owning their recovery," she says. "And it was the first time I felt any hope that maybe I could have a life beyond hiding in basements talking about my problem. And that I could just truly be who I am and help others to find the hope that I was given."

“It's a lifeline for me," she adds. "Even on the good days, I need to check in. And on the bad days, I need to check in even more. And there is always space for me. I used a lot because I didn't ever think I was enough. I just wasn't good enough. And at Phoenix I always feel like I'm enough."

"Recovery had never been appealing to me," Todd says. "And Phoenix made recovery very appealing. And it helped me change my identity from addict, alcoholic, felon, to a Cross-fitter, rock climber, husband, person in long-term recovery as I grew within the program and the community." Todd and Kaley have each been sober for nine years and have been married for four.

Here's to The Phoenix for fighting the stigma that often accompanies addiction, and for providing empowerment and support along the road to recovery.

Stand Together invests in solving the biggest problems facing our nation today in order to unleash the potential in every individual, regardless of their zip code. By supporting social entrepreneurs like Strode who're close to social issues like addiction and have developed innovative solutions, the company is helping combat these issues in ways that are working. You can get involved and find a transformative org near you at Standtogetheragainstpoverty.org.

To find out which of these organizations supports your values, take this quiz here and let Stand Together do the searching for you.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

The Hill/Twitter

It was a mere three weeks ago that President Biden announced that the U.S. would have enough vaccine supply to cover every adult American by the end of July. At the time, that was good news.

Today, he's bumped up that date by two full months.

That's great news.

In his announcement to the nation, Biden outlined the updated process for getting the country immunized against COVID-19.


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True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

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via ABC News

Julia Tinetti, 31, and Cassandra Madison, 32, first met in 2013 while working at The Russian Lady, a bar in New Haven, Connecticut, and the two immediately hit it off.

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