Investment Impact

  • Investment Impact

    Facebook Group Raises Nearly $12,000 for Recovery Beyond in Memory of Ann Nelson

    - by Anna Shaffer

    The Washington Hikers and Climbers (WHC) Facebook group has raised almost $12,000 for Recovery Beyond in memory of our friend and supporter Ann Nelson.

    Ann, a moderator for WHC, tragically lost her life in August 2019 while hiking in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Her sudden passing touched many people around the world including those in the hiking and climbing community. We were honored to be chosen by WHC moderators to be the beneficiary of a Facebook fundraiser in her memory.

    In addition to being an experienced northwest hiker and climber, Ann was a brilliant physicist and generous community supporter. She believed in providing opportunities for those who are disadvantaged, marginalized, or facing discrimination. Ann clearly lived beyond herself, and this was evident by the outpouring of support the WHC fundraiser received. Contributions rolled in quickly, and the fundraising goal of $10,000 was achieved in just over a week.

    Ann became a strong advocate of our work after learning about us from McKenzie Johnson, one of our “super” volunteers. “Ann saw me posting on WHC and followed our Facebook page after that. She was a believer in Recovery Beyond, and me, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that,” McKenzie says. “She was the one who was behind WHC allowing us to post about Recovery Beyond on their page.”

    “The first thing we did was ask for gear donations. When we do mountaineering activities, we have to outfit everyone with hiking boots, helmets, and other equipment. We’ll take anything that’s in good condition,” says Nate Lanting, Program Manager for Recovery Beyond. “WHC was having a social, and they let us use that event as a gear drop. All the moderators were on board, but Ann was the champion.

    As a young nonprofit, we were consistently encouraged by Ann and her husband David’s constant support for our program and participants. “Although Ann wasn’t in recovery herself, she connected with the idea of healing and addiction recovery through the outdoors,” Nate says. “One thing that is true of anyone in addiction recovery is the necessity to heal from pain in life. There’s no doubt that she connected with this sentiment and understood it.”

    To date, the WHC fundraiser in remembrance of Ann Nelson has raised almost $12,000 for Recovery Beyond. These funds will be directed toward developing a new program, Climbing Up, which will be available to the broader recovery community throughout King and Pierce Counties.

    Thank you to everyone who donated for your generous support. We will continue to honor Ann’s memory through bringing people to the outdoors for their health and wholeness.

    If you’d like to make a donation in Ann’s memory, you can do so at:

  • Investment Impact

    Braving The Elements To Support Lasting Recovery

    - by Katie Zeitler

    “Usually, when I tell someone I climb mountains with “former addicts”, I get a response along the lines of, ‘That’s so cool! If you can climb a mountain, you can do anything, right?!’ Well, yes… and no. Reaching the summit of a big peak is incredible. For most of our recovery climbers, it’s something they would never have a chance to do outside this program. But if you ask any of these men or women what the true benefit is, they’ll tell you it’s about the team. […] It is my deep honor to journey with them as they continue to climb the greatest mountain of their lives – overcoming what led them to addiction and choosing to pursue healthy relationships and a life of sobriety. They are truly my heroes.” – Amelia, Fundraising climber

    Amelisa Kaiser on Mount Rainier as part of the Recovery Beyond Fundraising Climb 2019.
    Photo Courtesy Amelia Kaiser

    Amelia is just one of seven fundraising climbers that participated in the Mount Rainier Fundraising climb this year. From May 16 -19, 2019, seven of our climbers, Abi Brewer, Camiya Brown, Christopher Poulos, Nate Lanting, Scott Brown, Amelia Kaiser, and Becky Vinson embarked on a climb of 14,411’ Mount Rainier to fundraise for Recovery Beyond. To date, gifts from 133 donors have been received and funds will go toward supporting our recovery program participants and expanding our programs.

    We are blown away by this support and are filled to the brim with gratitude.

    Though the climb itself is over, you can still contribute to our individual climber’s fundraising pages. Every fundraising climber has a reason for participating. Fundraising climber Christopher Poulos states, “The outdoors remains an essential component to my recovery and has helped me find both peace and community.”

    While you graciously consider a donation that will reshape a life, let us give you a glimpse into the type of community we are building and the supportive network we have by sharing details of this fundraising climb.

    For our climbers, it wasn’t about the summit.  It was about the journey, raising awareness for addiction recovery, and creating a sober community.

    Photo Courtesy Nate Lanting

    DAY 1 – International Mountain Guides (IMG) HQ

    The first day was spent at the International Mountain Guides (IMG) headquarters. The constant rain meant snow at higher elevations, and increased snow meant increased safety concerns. Spirits remained high though and everyone kept their fingers crossed for better conditions. The group arrived at the IMG HQ around 2 PM, spent time getting to know each other, talked about their favorite dinosaurs, and then met with Willie Webster, their lead guide at IMG. Together, they reviewed trip details, the itinerary, weather report, and leave no trace principles. Three hours were spent doing a gear check.

    Photo Courtesy Amelia Kaiser
    Photo Courtesy Nate Lanting

    A delicious dinner at Wildberry, a Nepalese restaurant, followed. The fundraising climbers received a Recovery Beyond Beanie (check out our store to purchase your own), water bottle, and a personalized “thank you” note from Nate, Recovery Beyond’s Program Manager, and fellow fundraising climber. The group ordered food and sat around the table sharing who they were, how they got plugged into Recovery Beyond, and why they were participating in the fundraising climb. The evening wrapped up and everyone returned to Lazy Bear Creek Cabin, a beautiful and quaint Air BnB cabin along a creek. A quick dip in the cabin’s hot tub ended the day.

    The rain continued to pour all night.

    DAY 2 – To Camp Muir -10,080′

    The climbers woke up at 6 AM, had breakfast, and returned to the IMG HQ by 7:30 AM with their bags packed and bellies full. They were ready to start the climb! They set out from IMG around 8:30 AM and arrived at Paradise (5,400’ elevation) at 9:15 AM.  At Paradise, it was cold, snowing, and the wind was blowing. The group sauntered over to a breezeway by the ranger station and readied themselves by putting on their boots, hard shell jackets and pants to keep dry, and sunscreen (even with clouds there’s still a possibility of getting sunburned).

    Photo courtesy Nate Lanting

    At 10:00 AM, the group began the first part of the climb up to Camp Muir at 10,080’. After an hour of hiking, they paused to take a break. One of the fundraising climbers, Camiya, had to turn around due to exhaustion. She joined another IMG group that was going through snow school at lower elevations. The group pressed on, taking breaks as needed. Around 9,000’, they were above the clouds, and what a sight it was to see! The sun broke out and the top of Rainier stood before them in all her glory. The rest of the hike to Muir was beautiful. The views were incredible, and everyone took their time so they could enjoy the experience.

    Photo courtesy Amelia Kaiser

    They reached Camp Muir at 4 PM and settled into their own bunkhouse. An hour later, the IMG guides came and got them and took them on a short hike to IMG Weatherport, which included kitchen and seating. Massive burritos were served for dinner. Scott Brown and Chris Poulos ate not one, not two, but -three- full burritos. Hot cocoa and hot tea followed, and a discussion about next day ensued. The night ended around 7 PM when everyone returned to their bunkhouse. By 9 PM, all were sleeping and skies were clear.

    Photo courtesy Amelia Kaiser

    Photo courtesy Amelia Kaiser

    DAY 3 – To Ingraham Flats Camp – 11,100′

    Everyone arose at 7 am and packed their gear. It was cool outside, the skies were clear, and there were picturesque views of Mount Adams, Mount Hood, and Mount Saint Helens. A delectable and sizeable breakfast at IMG Weatherport consisting of chocolate chip pancakes, bacon, and French press coffee was consumed. The climbers reviewed the plan for the day: Snow school first from 9 AM- 12 PM and then a hike to “the flats” camp.

    Snow school was educational. Each hour consisted of a different topic. First: using crampons, or “crampon-ing”. The climbers learned and practiced different waling techniques, such as the importance of good footwork. Second: using an ice ax and learning how to “self-arrest”. Everyone practiced self-arresting with their ice ax and feet (without crampons). A quick snack break came next, and the third hour started: Everyone put on avalanche beacons (a required practice from guided companies above Camp Muir), their crampons, and tied into the rope. Time was spent learning how to travel on the rope, and once everyone was comfortable, they headed up to “The Flats” camp. They hiked across the Cowlitz Glacier and then up through Cathedral Gap, taking time to enjoy the views of Little Tahoma. Fifteen minutes of hiking later and the group arrived at Ingraham Flats Camp.

    It was beautiful up there. There were jaw-dropping views of Little Tahoma and the upper mountain. Ingraham Flats Camp was everyone’s favorite part of the trip and was an “epic” spot to camp.

    Photo courtesy Nate Lanting


    Photo courtesy Nate Lanting

    Photo courtesy Nate Lanting

    Everyone settled into their IMG tents, and around 5 PM, they gathered at the IMG kitchen tent for another delicious dinner: Macaroni and cheese, vegetables, and, of course, a healthy amount of hot sauce. There was talk of the mountain conditions and the climb beginning at 2 AM the next morning. That’s when the climbers received an update on their climb. Willie Webster and the other guides shared how “loaded” the mountain was with snow, unfortunately making it unsafe to travel to the summit. Two guides had observed and cut in a trail to 12,500, making it the new climbing goal for the Recovery Beyond fundraising climbers.

    Were the climbers disappointed? Somewhat, but the weather was out of everyone’s control and they knew the chance for a summit bid would be very low because of it. Mount Rainier has a weather system all her own. Our fundraising climbers made the most of this trip, though. The point of the trip was not to summit, but to raise awareness and funds for addiction recovery. They learned as much as they could from their guides, laughed a whole lot, built relationships, and made incredible memories.

    “The main goal that this climb embodied was to create a sober community, both through fundraising and living it on the trip. We connected, had fun and enjoyed the adventure, all while being sober. The summit was just a bonus” – Nate Lanting

    DAY 4 – Summit & Back Home – 11,500′

    Photo courtesy Nate Lanting.

    At 2 AM, Willie woke everyone up. It had started snowing at 8 PM, about two hours after everyone had gone to sleep, and by that time, there was a new foot of snow on the ground. The group prepped their glacier gear, headed over to the kitchen tent for oatmeal and coffee, put on their glacier gear setup, and readied themselves to safely go as far as possible through the new snow. Helmet, headlamp, harness, goggles, hard shells, ice axe, crampons, heavy gloves – check, all on. They began their trek through the snowy, blizzard-like, dark night. After twenty minutes, Willie, the lead guide, called it. There was just too much new snow and it was unsafe. The team topped out at 11,500’ and then headed back to camp to sleep for a couple hours until first light.
    When there was light, the climbers began their descent, first setting down the mountain back toward Camp Muir, arriving there at 7:30 AM. Visibility was low, the wind was blowing, and it was snowing. A warm breakfast of pancakes and coffee at Weatherport provided a nice break from the elements before heading back down to Paradise. There were whiteout conditions until 7,500’, but the guides were able to navigate well using GPS tracking.
    Our fundraising climbers made it back down to Paradise at 12:15, feeling happy, thankful, and proud. By 1:15 PM, they had arrived back at IMG HQ, had a short debriefing, award ceremony, and an opportunity to share what the climb meant for everyone. All the fundraising climbers were thankful they were able to raise money to support addiction recovery. “Thank you’s” were shared with their guide, IMG, and with each other. A quick team photo and final goodbyes were met with “Let’s do this again!”

    “It was a fun climb even without the summit.  We all knew we were physically ready but the weather had another plan for us.  The IMG experience was incredible.  They communicate well, train us properly while allowing adequate time for rest and certainly having hot, fresh meals available to us was a bonus.  The climb was great because normally most of us are volunteers on Recovery Beyond climbs/hikes and wear some type of leadership hat.  This climb we got to kind of “let our hair down” and climb as friends.  It was great.  I felt like there wasn’t a better group of people to share this experience with.  I also loved that we all had the common goal of fundraising for Recovery Beyond.  It’s always more fun to climb with a purpose.” – Becky Vinson

    Photo courtesy Becky Vinson

    While the climb is over, the fundraising continues. YOU can donate today to create healthy lifestyles for lasting recovery.

    Successful recovery for an individual requires a community that supports healthy lifestyles. This is where Recovery Beyond comes in and provides a cost-effective solution to a growing concern in our communities, easing costs on our taxpayers. An 85{637c4c527fde39f83a380e19107d2ba88ad72607f37ccf8f8b7edeff1c20688c} success rate shows that what we are doing is working. We have a solution, but we need your support. We need to take action today and reduce the high addiction rates and chances of relapse.

    “There’s just something about the outdoors! I am approaching almost 7 years sober and it’s obvious the difference it makes to my state of mind when I get outside either on my own or with the group. Volunteering with Recovery Beyond is not only beneficial to the sobriety of those involved but incredibly important for my own recovery as well. With Recovery Beyond I’ve found a place to belong. With Recovery Beyond I’ve found a family. To be added to their Climb Team means so much. Not just about going up Rainier but getting to be a part of this program and supporting everything it stands for. Thank you for your support!!!” -Scott B., Fundraising Climber

    Donate today – because every person with an addiction deserves to live a healthy lifestyle for lasting recovery.

    • The Mount Si Gift: $50 – This provides 1 program participant monthly mentorship
    • The Loowit Gift: $100 – This provides 1 recovery hiker, hiking gear, 6 recovery-based hikes in the northwest, and the leadership support to do so.
    • The Dakobed Gift: $250 – This provides 1 recovery climber that opportunity to go on a 3-day backpacking trip in the northwest, with a team of experts, recovery support, and all the equipment and wrap around support to do so.
    • The Kulshan Gift: $500 – This provides 1 recovery climber that opportunity to climb to the top of Mt. Baker with a team of experts, recovery support, and all the equipment and wrap around support to do so.
    • The Pahto/Klickitat Gift: $1,000 – Provides 5 months of recovery based mountaineering programming, including 6 training hikes, 2 educational seminars, and 2 mountaineering trips to one person in addiction recovery
    • The Tahoma Gift: $5,000 – One calendar year of outdoor recovery & therapy, through weekly fitness classes, monthly community hikes, mountaineering and backpacking expeditions, and recovery-based mentorship, for one person in addiction recovery

    Check out individual fundraising pages to make your gifts.


    Thank you for your help in creating healthy lifestyles for lasting recovery.

    Please share this post on social media. Invite your friends to make a gift – no gift is too small and is greatly appreciated.

  • Investment Impact

    Give BIG: Everyone Has A Mountain.

    - by Katie Zeitler

    For GiveBIG this year, we are asking for your help.

    The need for more recovery programs is greater than ever. Substance use is a major, ongoing, and growing concern in our families, social circles, and communities. The opioid epidemic is not getting any smaller. Other substance use is rampant. Addiction is a disease and we need more options to fight it.

    Recovery Beyond offers a unique approach to recovery, going beyond the norm. Through mountaineering, exercise programs, hiking, backpacking, mentoring, and community support, Recovery Beyond offers a one-of-a-kind approach to recovery that is tailored toward the interests of our participants.

    We help our program participants climb mountains both physically and metaphorically.

    Sustained recovery through healthy lifestyles IS possible and IS what we do best. What we are doing is working and we see the need to continue growing.

    Over 85% of our program participants have successfully achieved sobriety in a lasting and meaningful way over the past three years.

    That is an incredible success rate and we want to continue to increase that rate by supporting the needs of our participants and community.

    We are a solution. We provide a newfound sense of purpose and direction in life for our program participants. We build skills, confidence, endurance, and teamwork. Recovery Beyond is a positive community, a place where the human spirit is inspired, and the soul restored.

    We need your help, though. Please consider a gift to Recovery Beyond for GiveBIG this year.

    Your donation will help build, support, and expand our programs and services, as well as complement the efforts of established recovery programs (such as The Seattle Union Gospel Mission and The Tacoma Rescue Mission). GiveBIG 2019 is a twenty-four hour online giving event powered by 501 Commons that helps nonprofits raise funds to support their mission. Whether you gift ten dollars or a thousand dollars, every dollar matters in helping us transform lives.

    From the bottom of our hearts, we sincerely thank you for your generosity and support.


    You can also donate directly via our “Donate” button at the top of this page.


  • Investment Impact

    Support Our Fundraising Climbers!

    - by Gina Haines

    From May 16-19th this year, a group of 7 supports of Recovery Beyond will embark on a climb of Mount Rainier. These individuals answered a call and challenge put forth by our founder, Mark Ursino over the past several months to dedicate themselves to this climb, and to raising money to support our efforts.

    A big thank you to Abi Brewer, Camiya Brown, Christopher Poulos, Nate Lanting, Scott Brown, Amelia Kaiser, and Becky Vinson for stepping up to this challenge. Their efforts so far have resulted in over 100 individual donors for Recovery Beyond. The funds raised help support our efforts to reach and help even more recovery climbers and to grow our program.

    Please consider making a contribution today to one of these Fundraiser Climbers and learn more about what motivates them on their campaigns. And beyond a donation, please tell your friends and family about this great and worthy cause. It’s our community of compassion that makes the difference every day and we are thankful for your spirit and action.

    Here are some of the comments we’ve received from donors to the Fundraising Climb.

    “Our daughter Amelia Kaiser volunteers with this amazing program. The stories of her time with Recovery Beyond have inspired us to support this wonderful group of people! We pray for all involved and encourage you to keep up the good work of changing lives for the better! God bless you!!!” – Elaine Klein

    Visit Amelia’s Fundraising Page

    “Recovery tools and creating a pathway to feeedom is important and crucial for the success of people. Thank you Christopher for making this fundraiser and bringing hope into the community.” – Carolina Landa

    Visit Christopher’s Fundraising Page

    “Scott Brown is someone who encourages all the program climbers. A joy to be around – glad to help!” – Price Taylor

    Visit Scott’s Fundraising Page

    “Go get it girl!” – Cheryl Ann

    Visit Camiya’s Fundraising Page

    “If anyone deserves to stand on that summit, YOU do!! It felt wrong for me to get to the summit last year while you didn’t. I am so proud of your tenacity and courage and I’m more than happy to help donate for your fund-raising climb in 2019. Godspeed, friend!” – Michele Arnold

    Visit Abi’s Fundraising Page


    Visit Matthew’s Fundraising Page

    If you are interested in joining them, it may not be too late, but time is running out. Email Gina Haines at [email protected] for more information. Let’s celebrate their awesome commitment to a healthy lifestyle and supporting others in achieving it.


  • Investment Impact

    Discover Abi’s Climb

    - by Nicole Assumpcao

    Anyone who grows up in the Seattle area is used to seeing the large visage of Mt. Rainier on the skyline (when weather permits, that is). Most of us glance at it with some sort of awe – but some of us have stronger feelings. “I see the mountain all the time and joke that I’m mad at it,” says Abi Brewer. Abi has made two attempts to climb the 14,000-foot peak; both were turned around due to unsafe conditions. But this spring she’s preparing for her third attempt, this time as a fundraiser for Recovery Beyond, the program that changed her life and started her mountaineering journey.

    As recently as two and a half years ago, if you’d asked Abi about her mountain aspirations and accomplishments, the list would have been short. Although she grew up in the Seattle area, she had never been much of a hiker. A long-standing battle with alcoholism resulted in her losing her family and brought her to New Life in Tacoma, where she stumbled onto the Recovery Beyond climb team. It wasn’t exactly love at first sight. “I hated it at first,” she said, “Everything was just so hard. I didn’t even like the hikes.” In the long run, however, some of the most miserable parts of her journey ended up being turning points. That year, their summit attempt of Mt. Hood was one of the most excruciating, throwing inclement weather and severe cold at a group of newbie hikers. “I have honestly never been so miserable in my life,” she says, “But I survived. That was what was empowering. I felt like such a badass just for having survived that discomfort.” That year she also bagged her first “big” peak, Mt. Baker, in similarly lackluster conditions: it was rainy, cold, and white-out conditions occluded all view. “I just cried. Like, how did I get here? It was not how I imagined my life would look.”

    Abi with her brother at a recent event.

    Now two years and three months sober and a New Life graduate, Abi continues to use the lessons she learned in the program in her day-to-day life. Exercise has become a mainstay of her anxiety-management protocol, as has the community she found at New Life. “Honestly, having that community is like, you need it in recovery. I wouldn’t have learned the importance of it without the New Life program and the Climb Team.” She and her husband are also in the midst of opening a tattoo parlor called “Northern Sanctuary Tattoo,” a risk she doesn’t feel she would have taken without having been through the program. “We see this company as a way to minister to people who might not have as much exposure to Christianity,” she says.

    Abi also maintains her commitment to helping others achieve this same kind of transformation. “You get into rehab and you feel like you have nothing going for you. I just want to support people so they can get out and tell their story.”  Besides volunteering at New Life both in the climb team and by leading Bible studies, she has also chosen to join the fundraising climb of Mount Rainier. A team of 8 climbers, guided by IMG, is making a summit attempt on Mt. Rainier May 16-19 this year in honor of the Recovery Beyond program. Each climber’s donations will support two individuals in the Climbing Out program. For Abi, this cause is deeply personal. “Without the climb program, I wouldn’t feel as complete. It really made my quality of life as a sober person – I’m happy.”

    So what better way to exact “revenge” on the mountain that has eluded her than to climb it in honor of a program that has meant so much to her? “I’m just hoping the third time’s a charm,” she jokes. 

    Want to help Abi meet her goal? Check out her fundraising page below or join her on Sunday, February 24 at Northern Sanctuary Tatoo (her new studio) for a fundraising night featuring a screening of the film “A New High” as well as art by local artists and tattoos by donation. If you’d like to snag one of the last spots on the climb, details can be found on the Fundraising Climb page.

  • Investment Impact

    Real Recovery Goes Beyond Charity

    - by Gina Haines

    Charity isn’t a word you hear too often anymore. It carries the connotation of a hand-out; in the extreme, the concept of charity can infantilize those receiving it and make those giving it seem arrogant and aloof.

    This shouldn’t be the case. Selfless giving and accepting gifts without shame are hallmarks of our humanity. There are people in our very own communities who truly need charitable giving now. Individuals and families who have no food, no home, and no means to meet their basic needs of survival.

    Without charity, we would be literally leaving these people out in the cold.

    It’s true, however, that this type of charity—giving that meets people’s basic and immediate needs—does not lead to long-term solutions for problems like homelessness and the addictions that often lie at its roots.

    Charity is important and essential, and it’s just the beginning.

    Community Investment for Lasting Relief, Growth, and Healing

    Once basic needs are met, people can focus on making lifelong changes for more rewarding and community-driven lives. Resources to guide and promote these long-term changes are lacking, though.

    That’s where Recovery Beyond is making a difference.

    Through our current programs, Climbing Out and Team Mission, we provide individuals already succeeding in addiction recovery programs with an additional and lasting opportunity for growth.

    In Climbing Out, ten months of team-building and intense physical and mental training culminates in a five-day hike to the summit of Mt. Rainier—an achievement that resonates for the rest of anyone’s life. Team Mission (our companion program at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission) achieves the same results through ongoing guidance in the sport of long-distance running, an activity that is more accessible yet demands equal commitment, endurance, and effort.

    Reaching the peak and making it through that last mile are memorable rewards, but it’s the trek that makes it all worthwhile. It’s the new skills and perspectives climbers and runners build along the way that leads to new lives and new futures.

    Homelessness and the substance dependency that often precedes and is exacerbated by it is a complex social and personal problem. Recovery Beyond addresses the personal aspects, empowering participants with better understandings of themselves and the extent of their capabilities.

    Where charity leaves off, they learn to take the next steps, confident of the ground underneath their feet.

    Ending Addiction, One Step At a Time

    There are hundreds of thousands of homeless people and families in the United States, and more than twenty thousand in Washington State. More than 60{637c4c527fde39f83a380e19107d2ba88ad72607f37ccf8f8b7edeff1c20688c} of these people also suffer from substance dependency. Ending addiction is key to ending homelessness, and to mitigating an array of problems and behaviors detrimental to the community at large.

    No single program can do it all. No single approach will be the key to success.

    But the difficulty is no excuse, and we can do better.

    If you’re interested in learning more about Recovery Beyond, making a contribution or even joining our Fundraising Climb to experience the life-changing Rainier summit for yourself, please click here to learn more.

  • Investment Impact

    A Problem In Need Of Holiday Giving

    - by Gina Haines

    Let’s be clear: every single dollar given to help another human being is priceless. Whenever you give, whatever you give, know that it’s appreciated and going to good use.

    Unfortunately, the disproportionate number of donations given in a holiday season can make budgeting and planning difficult for many organizations. They may be pressured or even required to use the resources they have on hand to serve as many as possible, as quickly as possible, and this can leave them coming up short the rest of the year.

    Giving Tuesday doesn’t solve that problem, but by choosing the right organizations to give to, you can.

    This year, we ask that you consider donating to organizations that are less crisis-oriented, and more focused on long-term changes that will ease the burden on temporary shelters and food banks.

    The Climbing Out program provides a unique opportunity to people who are currently struggling with addiction-related homelessness by successfully recovering from addiction. Those participating in our program rebuild their strength, resolve, and commitment to themselves, building more resilient connections with their community along the way.

    This program doesn’t provide shelter or meals. It provides the means for self-sufficiency, healing, and growth, so our climbers may never experience another homeless Thanksgiving again.

    We’re not saying you shouldn’t make planned donations to homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and other organizations this time of year. Please do, if you can! Our organization currently partners with two local homeless shelters, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission and The Tacoma Rescue Mission; both of us are grateful for your support.

    We also hope you’ll consider the long-term impacts of your giving, and balance the urgent needs of today with the unsolved problems of tomorrow. Learn more about our business case and Investment Drive and make this Giving Tuesday last the entire year.

    Click here to learn more about the Climbing Out Program.

  • Investment Impact

    Can We End Addiction-Related Homelessness with a Mountain Climb?

    - by Gina Haines

    As a result of the opioid crisis and addiction problems plaguing our society, homelessness continues to be on the rise. Every night, more than half-a-million people in the United States are in search of somewhere to sleep.

    When they’re lucky, they find a shelter, or doorway, or a bench, or a patch of grass or asphalt. The unlucky spend their nights wandering, or under arrest, or in any number of dangerous circumstances.

    And every morning, there are a few who don’t wake up.

    Homelessness is a life-and-death issue and addiction plays a large part in the problem. Many of our nation’s homeless who also suffer from a drug addiction have that much more to overcome and are that much more at risk. While there are many programs and shelters doing terrific work to help our homeless population, they don’t have space or the resources to help everyone.

    And few programs have proven successful in helping to lift people out of their addictions and as a result, homelessness permanently and productively. Why? Because they aren’t equipped to treat the root causes like addiction, and because there are too many lives that need saving today to make adequate plans for tomorrow.

    We need to change the paradigm. We need better long-term solutions for homelessness, for addiction, and for giving everyone the help and the tools for self-help they need.

    Climb Out

    Of the 540,000+ homeless people in the US, more than 21,000 of them are here in Washington State. Well over half of Washington’s homeless citizens are located in the Seattle-Tacoma area—one of the most affluent and high-tech regions in the country.

    In cities with many “haves,” the plight of the “have-nots” becomes even harder to witness.

    But homelessness isn’t simply a matter of economic hardship. For many, it is tied to lives of abuse, neglect, drug addiction, and other mental health issues. For these people, finding their way to a happy and productive life means undergoing a more intense and profound healing process than finding a new place to call home.

    They need a way to take back control, and to build the skills and strengths they need to move up and beyond the positions, they’ve landed in.

    Since 2011, our organization has been working with two local shelters to give recovering addicts a life-changing experience—one that allows them to truly climb out of homelessness. Each year, individuals demonstrating success in a broader recovery program receive nearly 10 months of physical and mental training in preparation for a summit of Mt. Rainier. The five-day trek is one that few people from any walk of life attempt, and marks a significant triumph for those with a background of drug dependency and shelter insecurity.

    This year, we’re holding a Fundraising Climb to raise funds to help serve more people. Eight donors will be joining us on a climb that follows a route our program participants may take, right up to the peak of Mt. Rainier. These donors can’t get their alone, though—they need your help, too, because they’re each raising funds to sponsor a minimum of two recovery climbers in 2019.

    Please consider making a contribution to one of our donor climbers. Together, we can take steps to end homelessness once and for all, one summit at a time.

    To donate, or to learn more about our organization and our Fundraising Climb, please click here.


    Want to donate to a participant’s climb? Visit, search for the climber you want to support and make your donation.

  • Investment Impact

    Homelessness in Our Community: WHY our work is needed and HOW you can help.

    - by Gina Haines

    “Seattle’s homelessness crisis has been years in the making, and its roots run deep, touching racial inequity, economic disparities, mental health treatment, rising housing costs, mental health, addiction, and so much more. We have a responsibility to be honest that this crisis won’t go away overnight. Lasting, meaningful progress will take years. But we still must act – and are acting – to improve life in Seattle.” – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan

    Scott Greenstone, the Seattle Times “Project Homeless” producer and engagement editor, stated that one way to help the homeless in Seattle is to shorten the wait time to receive mental health and addiction treatment services. “It’s common to wait a week or two – sometimes as much as a month –for an appointment.”

    In a report done in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 34.7{637c4c527fde39f83a380e19107d2ba88ad72607f37ccf8f8b7edeff1c20688c} of sheltered adults who were homeless had chronic substance use issues (SAMHSA) and over 80{637c4c527fde39f83a380e19107d2ba88ad72607f37ccf8f8b7edeff1c20688c} have experienced lifetime alcohol and/or drug problems. According to Seattle Major Jenny A. Durkan’s website, drug overdose is currently the leading cause of death among people who are homeless. More individuals seek detox for heroin than they do alcohol in King County. Due to the lack of beds in Washington (Washington state is ranked 47th in the nation for psychiatric beds per capita), there are more than 150 people on a waitlist for treatment every day! The City of Seattle has allotted a $78,00,000 budget for Homelessness Response in 2018, which includes areas such a shelter, hygiene and outreach, permanent supportive housing, rapid rehousing and diversion, prevention, access to services, operations, and more.

    Recovery Beyond’s Climbing Out program has shown an optimistic success rate in helping individuals holistically through recovery by weaving together socialization skills and teamwork with physical activity. As noted in a Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, amended in 2015, entitled “Opening Doors”, individuals who are homeless struggle with having a non-existent or frail support network. The interpersonal skills Recovery Beyond teaches are important in the recovery process because they remove the “us vs. them” mentality and increase the likelihood of recovery due to better, supportive relationships. In the past three years, nearly all participants in the program have remained sober. This is incredible. On average, it takes an individual about seven attempts to achieve lasting sobriety.

    We need to do everything we can and have all-hands-on-deck if we are going to help homeless individuals in recovery. We are asking for your help: Homelessness can’t be solved overnight. It’s a process of recovery, achieved one individual at a time.
    Homelessness continues to be on the rise in King County, according to All Home, an agency that works collaboratively with other organizations and institutions in the county to significantly reduce homelessness. At the time of data collection in 2018, the homeless population in King County was at 12, 211, rising by 469 individuals from the previous year. Over half of the homeless population lives unsheltered, and the remaining live in vehicles, buildings, tents, transitional housing, villages, and emergency shelters.

    The housing crisis is just one of the many causes of homelessness, but currently grabs more media attention than other causes. Other factors that contribute to homelessness include domestic violence, certain disabilities, untreated mental illness, medical bills, and addiction. Individuals may utilize substances to alleviate the discomforts they are experiencing, whether it be the challenges of an undiagnosed mental health disorder, physical pain, or a coping mechanism for a life situation, such as the death of a loved one or a divorce. There are several factors that can lead to substance use disorders, including social factors, genetic predisposition, availability and tolerance, and other mental health problems.

    Will you support our efforts? A monetary donation will support our mission. Please click here to donate.

    • Current Statistics on the Prevalence and Characteristics of People Experiencing Homelessness in the United States[PDF]. (2011). SAMSHA.
    • Greenstone, S. (2017, November 24). One way to help homeless in King County? Shorten the wait for treatment. Retrieved from
    • L. (2016, January 21). Homelessness Programs and Resources. Retrieved from
    • Opening Doors[PDF]. (2015, June). United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.
    • The Roots of the Crisis. (n.d.). Retrieved July 4, 2018, from
  • Investment Impact

    NOT Going Home – Homelessness Shows No Signs of Going Away

    - by Gina Haines

    Image courtesy of The Gospel Herold.

    On November 17th right before Thanksgiving, the Puget Sound Business Journal published a set of articles about recent reports about Homelessness in the Seattle area. There were several take aways:

    1. Homelessness is growing; the causes and issues are complex, and few solutions have worked.
    2. The government agencies that are accountable for addressing the issues caused by homelessness do not work together coordinating programs, services or budgets. A result is a silo approach which provides a variety of opportunities for people to fall through the cracks; unable to get the help they need to get off the streets.
    3. Often homelessness is a byproduct of the rapid rise in rents and the low number of affordable housing units available; job loss or a medical issue; with single-parent families being among the hardest hit and with the fewest options for shelter and support.
    4. The homeless population is straining the city and county budgets and resources at current levels; the growing numbers have decision makers very concerned about the near future. There isn’t a concise method of even reporting all the costs involved with the impacts of homeless individuals. Current measurement methods do not capture the cost causers across organizations and agencies.  One article highlights the $746 million spent on a “disjointed patchwork” of programs; which include money donated to non-profits that deal with part of the problem. No one group provides services for all levels of need. See “Levels” chart below.
    5. The report also calls out the myths surrounding homelessness. The Seattle Report cited the following examples:
      • 90{637c4c527fde39f83a380e19107d2ba88ad72607f37ccf8f8b7edeff1c20688c} – Of homeless individuals said they would move into affordable housing if available.
      • 41{637c4c527fde39f83a380e19107d2ba88ad72607f37ccf8f8b7edeff1c20688c} – Of homeless individuals said they were working full or part-time with some employed in temporary and seasonal positions.
      • 30{637c4c527fde39f83a380e19107d2ba88ad72607f37ccf8f8b7edeff1c20688c} – Of homeless individuals noted that job loss was the primary reason they were on the street.
      • 70{637c4c527fde39f83a380e19107d2ba88ad72607f37ccf8f8b7edeff1c20688c} – Of homeless individuals said that they could only afford $500/month for rent.
      • 258 – The number of people added to the homeless population each time rents increased 5{637c4c527fde39f83a380e19107d2ba88ad72607f37ccf8f8b7edeff1c20688c}.
    6. Homelessness is rooted in shortcomings of other systems, such as foster care, incarceration policies, mental health practices and general drug and alcohol addiction crises. A general lack of mental health providers and case managers were also cited.

    Annual Homelessness Count

    Each year a count is taken to determine the homeless population in the Seattle, King County area, please see chart below for the last seven years. The previous four years have seen dramatic growth across the region. One report showed the about 40{637c4c527fde39f83a380e19107d2ba88ad72607f37ccf8f8b7edeff1c20688c} of our homeless population are not originally from the Seattle – Tacoma area.

    On the east side, the number of homeless families has grown tragically. There are no homeless shelters which cater to families with young children currently on the east side. A new family day shelter opened about a year ago. If money can be raised and property found, the hope is that this shelter would expand to offer year-round full time living options. By using a coordinated approach, over 40 families have found transitional or permanent housing and have moved off the streets.

    Seattle’s new Mayor Jenny Durkin is quoted as saying “We are this prosperous city in the most prosperous country of the world and yet we have thousands of people sleeping in tents and doorways. We need to do better”. We believe we can do better.

    Community Impacts

    Homelessness is a community problem, systemic inefficiencies, the opioid crisis, and the increased number of deaths due to overdosing impacts everyone. Violent crimes are up; homeless people get sick more often and burden the healthcare system. The cost to treat someone from the streets is four times higher than someone with a home.  Other data provided additional grim realities:

    • Estimates show that 12,000 homeless people live in King County’s six sanctioned encampments. There are 400 other unsanctioned encampments, many living in cars or in overnight shelters.
    • $1.06 billion is spent annually in Puget Sound to respond to homelessness and its issues.
    • The estimated cost of house and care for our homeless would be $192 million a year.
    • None of the costs mention includes those incurred by the Seattle Police Department or Harborview. Public agencies don’t uniformly track costs; so it is difficult to see the whole picture.
    • There is no system to identify the homeless; so they may end up being recycled through the medical system and jails without ever getting them the help they need, for example, mental health prescriptions or addiction treatment.  Washington State ranks 47th in the nation for access to mental health services according to Mental Health America.
    • The US Department of Housing has not allocated a penny for public housing since 1996. Future budgets are not hopeful either.


    The only real sustainable solution is prevention. By preventing people from falling through the systemic support cracks, we could prevent homelessness in the future. But first, there is still a lot to learn about the causes and issues around why people end up on the streets right now. This problem is an individual one; each person comes with their own story. Each story has implications for a different set of circumstances, root causes.  A plethora of possible changes would be necessary to address these outcomes and alter their results. One approach is developing services, providing case management resources and additional funding safety nets to help vulnerable people and their families. It also means being ready to tackle upstream problems. There is little doubt that it would be cheaper and less traumatic if we could stop homelessness from ever occurring; rather than treating it as we are today.

    Addiction may be the most important root cause today, especially with the growing opioid problems across the country. Possible solutions would need to include:

    • Additional treatment centers and increased number of beds for those ready to enter treatment. Until the individual is prepared to address the causes of their addiction, their behavior won’t change.
    • The small number of affordable or low rent housing units and rapidly rising rents mean that more people with little or no earning power are at risk. This is especially true for those with disabilities or limited capacity.
    • Often transitional housing is the first step toward re-entering society; job training, counseling, medical services are all part of the safety net to keep people off the streets. Social services that offer case management support are the quickest way to assure all the issues are being identified and an action plan developed and monitored to alleviate problems and keep them from repeating.
    • Some large and small employers are beginning to work together to supply part of the missing services. This is a sign of hope. It also allows them to find valuable future employees once underlying issues have been addressed and job training or needed skills are gained.

    Why do we care? We see the spectrum of need and fill a small role in assisting people in their recovery process by offering physical fitness, companionship, and mentoring to develop the socialization skills necessary to be part of the team and to learn to set goals, helping our recovery participants to succeed. By working with mission partners, we augment the treatment program they offer. We’ve measured our results over the last three years and have seen an 85{637c4c527fde39f83a380e19107d2ba88ad72607f37ccf8f8b7edeff1c20688c} sobriety rate. We believe that after seven years, we are ready to help more people in our community to find the healing and peace they need. Our community will be better off as a result of a more coordinated individual approach and by building the safety net many need. We aren’t giving a hand out; we’re helping by providing a hand up. Please consider how you can help. After all, we are in this together.

    The Truth About Homelessness (Infographic)