PKG Social Impact Internships: Katelyn Downey (’21)

My name is Katie Downey, and I am a course 7 senior with an interest in public health. This IAP, I had the opportunity to work with The Phoenix, a non-profit organization that serves the recovery community by providing free sober active programming such as group fitness, yoga, meditation, and cycling.  My project focus was to determine treatment provider impact in Southern California in order to create a database that prioritizes outreach and partnership efforts. 

Before learning about and working with The Phoenix, I didn’t know much about the resources available to those in recovery. It is pretty common to hear about someone going to rehab, and I was familiar with detoxification and inpatient programs; however, what happened next was unclear to me. I learned that this is due in part to the lack of programs available to those in recovery, which is a result of insufficient resources, funding, and often health insurance coverage. However, it is also a result of the stigma that exists around being in recovery. During my internship training, I watched videos of members sharing their stories. One shared how saying “I’m in recovery” seemed to scare people away. Another noted that becoming intoxicated on a date was fine, but saying “I don’t drink anymore” was a red flag. Listening to members’ stories made it clear that the stigma around being in recovery is real, and larger than I had previously imagined. Addiction affects 21.6 million Americans, and the lack of resources available to those in recovery is a public health crisis, as these programs are critically important for preventing relapses (SAMHSA, 2019). 

The Phoenix strives to create a community that will not only combat the stigma of being in recovery, but also fill the void of sober programming by creating a support network for those in recovery with the motto “together we rise”. The only requirement to becoming a member is 48 hours of sobriety. The Phoenix focuses on building meaningful connections and uses exercise, which is proven to improve overall health and wellbeing, as well as other non-exercise related events to bring people together and create lasting bonds. 

My project specifically focused on prioritizing outreach efforts so that the maximum number of people could be reached and informed about The Phoenix’s services. While it was often difficult to find the exact data I was searching for, whether it be unpublished or not publicly available, I enjoyed the challenge and need for creative solutions to create a database. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to work with The Phoenix, and I hope to contribute to other efforts to solve public health issues in the future. 

Want to learn more about the PKG Social Impact Internships Program? Visit our webpage to learn about ELO opportunities for Spring 2021, and stay tuned for information for summer 2021 postings!

Tags: Social Impact Internships, Social Impact Internships IAP 2021, Substance and Recovery, Tech for Good

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