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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A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
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This year, we've all experienced a little more stress and anxiety. This is especially true for youth facing homelessness, like Megan and Lionel. Enter Covenant House, an international organization that helps transform and save the lives of more than a million homeless, runaway, and trafficked young people.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is Delivering Smiles this holiday season by donating essential items and fulfilling AmazonSmile Charity Lists for organizations, like Covenant House, that have been impacted this year more than ever. Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a charity of your choice or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

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"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

via Twins Trust / Twitter

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