2022 Annual Impact Report
5 year strategic goals
Solidify SPW’s position as the go-to for harm reduction content expertise in Arizona
Expand the network of Harm Reduction Healthcare Providers
Build mechanisms and relationships for equitable community engagement and accountability
Create organizational climate that supports equity, retention, and authenticity
Establish harm-reduction centered data tools to more effectively serve PWUD and communicate our impact
In 2022, SPW supported Arizonans who use drugs in innovative & more effective ways. In our first full year since we legalized syringe service programs and fentanyl test strips, we increased the number of people we reached by 25%.
And the results of our work in previous years – that so many of you directly supported – have made their mark: there was no significant increase in opioid deaths between 2020 and 2021 in Arizona. Nationally there was a 15% increase in overdose deaths, but Arizona’s rates did not increase. While we’d like to see them decrease and disappear, this is huge. So how did Arizona avoid an increase? Well, you were a big part of it.
A study published earlier this year showed that Arizona was the only state that had a sufficient number of naloxone doses out in the community to actually reduce fatal overdoses. SPW is the largest distributor of community naloxone in the country, so we think we had something to do with it. But we can only do this with support from our volunteers who assemble 73% of all of our naloxone kits, our partners who get our naloxone to their clients, our donors, and our staff who are embedded in multiple unique communities, pumping out naloxone, fentanyl test strips, and harm reduction strategies across the state.
reported overdoses reversed
2017-2022: We distributed 795,341 naloxone doses and 23,121 reported overdoses reversed
Administrative: This department ensures that our staff and community members have the resources and support they need to have big impacts.
Outreach: Centering people who use drugs is at the core of all the work we do, and that means meeting folks where they are at. From testing to street outreach to community events, you will find SPW staff out in Arizona talking to people and getting them the resources they need in order to stay healthy.
Systems Change: The Systems Change Department supports people who use drugs at the institutional level by offering training, education, and technical assistance for organizations who interact with people who use drugs and the community at large. Our Systems Change Team also supports PWUD directly, with an emphasis on people identifying as women & those involved in the criminal-legal system, through workshops and more individualized referrals.
Here’s a more in depth look at the critical work our Outreach and Systems Change departments do:
Syringe Services Program: Thanks to our work writing and passing SB 1250 in the Arizona State Legislature in 2021, we were able to expand our syringe services programming (SSPs) throughout the state. Since then, we have opened SSPs in Maricopa, Pima, Yavapai, Yuma, Coconino, and Cochise counties, as well as enhancing our program in Mohave county. We continued to grow in Maricopa county by opening a new outreach site in collaboration with the city of Guadalupe and Pascua Yaqui Tribe. We also partnered with New Hope Behavioral Health Center to open a new SSP in east Mesa. SPW’s Syringe Services Program has gone from an idea, to a decade-long fight to change the law, now to a reality where SSPs have been popping up across the state. They have more opportunities for funding and partnership, and most importantly do not have to hide the critically life-saving work that they do.
Testing: SPW tested more people than we’ve ever tested for HIV and hepatitis C in 2022. This was thanks in large part to our 17 volunteer testers. With the support of volunteer testers, SPW staff began performing our own confirmatory testing (blood draws instead of finger sticks), giving people more accurate information about their status. Hepatitis C is curable, HIV is treatable, and we know that awareness is the first step in receiving care. Our participation on the Hep Free AZ work group helped overturn AHCCCS’ stigmatizing policies, so now anybody on AHCCCS can receive hepatitis C treatment, regardless of their current or past substance use.
In 2023, we will run two private HIV/HCV testing spaces out of our new Sprinter van. Our retrofitted van will also assist our syringe services in 2023 and allow us to more efficiently and discreetly offer our resources to even more people.
Peer Support: Our Peer Support team did so much in 2022! This team – located in Coconino, Maricopa, Mohave, Pima, Cochise, and remotely – focused on meeting people where they are in life and working alongside them to set their own goals. We helped folks access resources such as housing vouchers, IDs, legal support, and more. In 2022, we were able to support 73% more individuals than 2021. We helped more participants receive medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD), health care, and behavioral health services. We also started a peer support group for people who use drugs with our partners at New Hope Behavioral Health Center to build community, share knowledge, and increase safety.
Systems Change Programs
Training and Education: SPW’s Training and Education program evolved a lot in 2022. We launched the first ever Harm Reduction Certification course in Arizona. This 16 hour training combines evidence based approaches with knowledge derived from the lived experience of our staff and participants. The certification covers trends, the history of the drug war, harm reduction basics, program implementation, and more. In 2022, 81 healthcare & social service providers were certified. The Training & Education team also put in the work to build a harm reduction-centered Peer Support Academy which will be available online in 2023. Finally, we launched an on-demand webinar on overdose prevention & naloxone use, which reached 683 people in its first 8 months.
Cochise Project: In 2021, SPW launched a three-year long project to create multilevel change in Cochise county to support prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and overall well-being. Our Cochise county staff led trainings, made connections with regional behavioral health centers, Cochise College, Benson Hospital, Community Medical Services, and many more. Because of our efforts and our partnership with Cochise Harm Reduction Project, we’ve been able to increase naloxone distribution in the county by 50% since 2021. We’re currently retrofitting an RV so we can privately deliver resources, testing, and basic health care to even the most rural parts of Cochise county.
Systems Navigation: Our Systems Navigation team specializes in outreach and peer support work with people who use drugs who may face additional barriers to getting the assistance they need. In 2022, this program focused on women and people caught up in the criminal punishment system, as well as partnering with tribal groups in Northern Arizona. We were able to start helping participants expunge their cannabis convictions in this program.
We started groups for residents at the domestic violence organization Sojourner Center in Phoenix, and began work to develop groups for individuals involved with Navajo Nation Probation Services. In addition, we started working with Navajo Probation and Hopi Behavioral Health services to train their staff in harm reduction principles and overdose prevention.
SPW deeply believes that all people, especially people who use drugs, deserve access to the physical resources they need to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
We give out a wide range of resources to help reduce a variety of potential harms that can be experienced by PWUD. Some of these supplies are intended to reduce risks directly associated with substance use. Other supplies help address the harms that come from the systemic violence, exclusion, and neglect that PWUD experience when trying to get their basic needs met.
We group our resources into 2 main categories:
Safer Use Supplies
Medical and Basic Living Supplies
In 2022, SPW distributed 101,210 resource kits across the state of Arizona.
In 2022, we expanded and enhanced our Harm Reduction by Mail program to help get these resources directly to people across the state. We fulfilled 2,893 requests across all 15 AZ counties.
Because we distribute such a large amount of supplies across the state, in November of 2022 SPW moved into an office/warehouse space. This change will help us strengthen our inventory systems to ensure that these resources are moving quickly and efficiently into the hands of PWUD through direct distribution. Our resource kits are essential to help people mitigate many potential harms. Still, we know that hygiene kits are not an adequate substitute for a home; wound care kits cannot take the place of a hospital. These are immediate solutions to broad and complex issues, which must be addressed at the mezzo and macro levels if we want to see meaningful, sustainable change.
SPW’s Volunteer Program continued to grow and flourish in 2022.
- 351 Unique Volunteers (12% increase from 2021)
- 5,642 Hours Volunteered (40% increase)
- 65,635 Naloxone Kits Assembled (3% increase)
- 44,018 Outreach Kits Assembled (190% increase)
- 308 HIV/HCV rapid tests conducted by volunteers
Volunteer of the year: Rick Michels
Rick joined SPW’s volunteer team in November of 2021. As a Public Health Master’s student at NAU, Rick completed an internship with SPW, supporting outreach in Coconino county and developing data analysis tools to enhance our testing program across the state. In 2022, they spent 158 hours volunteering with SPW doing: direct outreach, inventory support, coordinating kit-making efforts in the region, data analysis, and more! Rick is caring, compassionate, and a dedicated harm reductionist. They love SPW’s approach to meeting people where they are at, and helping folks in a compassionate and non-judgemental way. We leaned on them throughout 2022 – whether we needed help reorganizing our Flagstaff storage unit or if we needed to problem-solve complicated issues with data-reporting. Their efforts overall have made SPW stronger, both where they live in Coconino county, and within our testing program across the state. We are so grateful for their support and are proud to name them Volunteer of the Year!
Top Tester: Tori Damore
Tori is our longest-term and most experienced volunteer tester. She has been testing with us since Jan 2022 and conducted 96 rapid tests from June – Dec. Tori also helped develop a Volunteer Tester Training facilitation guide so we can continue to train volunteer testers across the state.
Top Outreach Volunteer: Oscar Estrella
Oscar started volunteering with us in June, and in only 6 months he spent 123 hours directly connecting with PWUD through outreach in Yuma, one of our newest sites to host a syringe service program.
Top Kit Maker: Peter Rizzo
In 2022, Peter helped in the direct assembly of over 4000 harm reduction kits with SPW, often hosting kit making parties that introduce more people to our work.
Other Staff Nominations:
Special mention to these awesome volunteers who got the attention of our staff for their dedication to harm reduction! Karenth Garcia; Saul Favila; Genevieve Roberts; Lucas Nowel; Lee-Ann Dunton; Erin Roper; Tricia Hanks; Lucy Beckner
Since 2017, our naloxone distribution has saved over 22,000 lives, but we can’t do this harm reduction work alone.
As the War on Drugs continues to rage and evolve, so too must our response.
In 2022 we supported our programs with grants, contracts, and financial contributions from our generous supporters. From local businesses to individual donors across Arizona, we continue to be supported by our incredible and caring community, and it means so much to us.
With your support, we raised over $180,000 in 2022, a 78% increase over 2021, but short of our goal of $325,000. Our goal for fundraising in 2023 is $250,000. Please consider helping us get there!
Become a volunteer
Do you care about the health and safety of people who use drugs? You can be a part of building a healthier Arizona with people who use drugs by becoming an SPW volunteer. We value the insight that comes from lived experience with substance use, and do not require background checks, drug tests, or abstinence to get involved. We can’t wait to work with you!
Join the Fight Club
Want to be a consistent support to SPW and people who use drugs? Along with volunteering, joining our group of monthly donors or our “Fight Club” is a fantastic way to show your support. For only $5 a month you can join our group of dedicated and passionate supporters. Our Fight Club members are eligible for yearly rewards and perks at our events to our Supporter Appreciation Parties too. It’s a win-win for both you and SPW! Join today.
Due to additional investments during the COVID pandemic, SPW was able to expand its programs and staffing in 2022. We brought on more staff than ever before, with extra focus on hiring operations staff to better support our frontline employees, resulting in a total team of 47 people at the end of the year. We brought on our first Syringe Service Program Specialists in Yavapai, Yuma, and Cochise counties, as well as our first ever Systems Navigation Specialists.
Since 2019, SPW has committed to building an organization rooted in racial justice from the inside to the out. Since 2019 we have focused on ensuring that we have the necessary organizational infrastructure to succeed in our racial equity endeavors. This has included financial stabilizing, strengthening our staff recruitment & retention efforts, and building structure so that our staff can focus on the work they were hired for. In November 2022 we hosted our first all-staff racial equity training over the course of two days. This training was custom built for us by experts in racial equity implementation in the workplace. In 2023 we will be implementing internal racial equity caucus meetings to continue our shared growth. Additionally, we worked to set racial equity goals for all of our programs and individual staff in 2023. We are excited to keep you updated on our progress!
As an organization that has always been led by, for, and with people who use drugs, we took further steps toward institutionalizing that truth. We started our first “Lived Experience Caucus” among the staff to capture the unique experiences that our staff share with our participants. This caucus is focused on enhancing internal structures, policies, and plans to better support people who use drugs who engage with SPW at all levels.
Our staff learned a lot about leadership and how to build a stronger organization this year through our internal Management Roundtable, attending trainings from The Management Center, and individualized coaching on leadership development. Through that growth, we encouraged our staff to form a work group identifying what they want in SPW’s Board of Directors beyond just typical fiscal & legal oversight. Over half of our staff participated in this work group, and have made significant suggestions for how the SPW board can best support SPW. Keep an eye out for our new board member application to open up in the first few months of 2023!
We take our staff’s experiences and input seriously, and we made additional investments into our teams in 2022. In the spring we hosted our first ever Employee Appreciation Camping Trip where over a dozen staff and their families chillaxed by a river and got to spend time together outside of the context of our day-to-day work. We also hosted our first ever Department Planning Retreats in the fall where we analyzed our successes & challenges over the past year, identified & prioritized top areas to work on, and used that input to get a head start on 2023 planning.
International Overdose Awareness Day
International Overdose Awareness Day is on August 31st every year. It’s a day to spread awareness about overdose, but most importantly to commemorate those who are no longer with us. In 2022, we celebrated our lost loved ones’ lives in Mesa, Flagstaff, Tucson, and Sierra Vista. We offered a space with music, food, and healing activities, and we built beautiful altars that displayed our lost loved ones and lit candles for them. Keep some space on your calendar for this important annual event in August of 2023!
We also hosted a very insightful online conversation in tandem with our in-person events. We invited experts from across the country, including Margaret Bordeaux from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Yarelix Estrada from New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Teresa Springer from Wellness Services Inc in Flint, Michigan to discuss the Social Determinants of Overdose. Hosted by our very own Kayla Kurti and joined by our long-time staff member Karen Broman, we discussed how Covid-19, the drug supply, and stigma, among many other factors, affect people who use drugs.
In 2023 we will continue to need your support. Our fundraising goal for 2023 is $250,000.
It takes so many caring partners and donors to power our mission and
support our work. Thanks to their financial support Arizona is a
healthier and safer place.
It takes so many caring partners and donors to power our mission and support our work. Thanks to their financial support Arizona is a healthier and safer place.
Below are some amazing organizations and individuals collaborating with us to ensure this critical work continues:
Aunt Ritas Foundation
Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS
Carol and John Keogh
Enterprise Holdings Foundation
Gilead Sciences Inc.
Mimi and Stephen Bolduc
University of Arizona Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health
Huge shout-out to the SPW Fight Club, who give sustained donations to SPW:
Clayton W James
Jennifer K Johnson
Jose Echeverria Vega