Matty’s Journey – NorthStar Clubhouse

By December 21, 2023No Comments

NorthStar Clubhouse is a peer-run program of New Narrative. It creates a safe space where members living with mental health challenges can step out of the shadows of social isolation and into the light of a healing community. Through meaningful relationships and volunteer work, NorthStar members have real opportunities to reintegrate into society by becoming gainfully employed, pursuing education, and being part of a supportive community. NorthStar Clubhouse is one of more than 325 Clubhouses in more than 30 countries recognized as an accredited clubhouse by Clubhouse International. The following is a personal account of one NorthStar member’s time with this program, as presented during the annual Gala.

My name is Matty G, I am 36 years old, and I have been a NorthStar member for about 8 years.

I was born to a heroin addict mother and an alcoholic father in Fresno, California. Throughout my childhood I endured neglect and abuse. I lived in various rough environments growing up from South Central Los Angeles to the Oregon State Hospital. As a child I never really felt heard or seen and have struggled in adulthood because of the constant childhood trauma I endured.

As a result of my trauma, especially from my mom’s death at the age 15 onward, I had a massive chip on my shoulder. I was told by therapists that I might not make it past my early 20s and school councilors said I would not finish high school. In June 2007 I graduated from high school and started community college with aspirations to be a journalist. I was disappointed in the lack of validation I received for how much work I did to catch up to my peers due to my chaotic childhood.

Matty smiling at the camera. He has short dark hair and wears a plaid t-shirt.

Matty G.

Throughout my adulthood I have been unsuccessful in finding a community where I fit in until I found NorthStar. This caused me to feel alone and in crisis often. I was a frequent user of hospital emergency departments and psychiatric units, in 2013 I was admitted to an ICU from my first of many suicide attempts. I was hopeless and without the tools I needed to build a life worth living. A huge majority of my existence was not wanting to exist in a world I was set on believing did not want me here.

When I joined NorthStar I did not say much and felt like an outsider. Recently I have become more outspoken, and I am learning to feel less shame for doing so. I strongly believe in advocating NorthStar and the clubhouse model to others. This is the first place I have believed in myself in a very long time. I did not necessarily realize my potential here until this year after graduating from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. The skills I have learned there have helped me build confidence and purpose in the clubhouse.

At NorthStar I have been learning to use my strengths to lift myself up and hopefully others. I believe I am very personable in authentic in my interactions with others. I have developed many impactful relationships with the people I work with in the clubhouse. It is a place where I feel not only seen and heard but also feel like I bring value to something I have always felt passionate about.

NorthStar members in the main area of the Clubhouse

Matty and members have fun while working on the newsletter

At NorthStar I have found something more meaningful than any retail job I have had and possibly even better than a career in journalism. Without NorthStar I would be isolating a lot more. The people you see in this room putting on this event and the ones who could not make it have helped me rediscover my purpose in life, my desire to contribute to the enrichment of those who are left vulnerable and often in other spaces without a voice. Here I am not alone and apart of a team that does so much good for each other. It is the safest spot in the city for me and I believe that is the case for other members. I am full of gratitude that my community has chosen me to speak on behalf of us tonight, it is an accumulation what this clubhouse does for me every time I walk through those doors. I believe in the potential NorthStar has for growth full heartedly, I see examples of that daily.

The NorthStar motto “Together We Thrive” means something to me today, when I walked through those doors the first time my slogan was “Me vs Everybody,” at NorthStar I have a place where I can leave that motto at the door. My hope for myself and everyone else is that NorthStar and the clubhouse model can be a platform where we can develop the tools needed where we do not feel alone in. Your support for this clubhouse does not go unnoticed. Thank you for your commitment to NorthStar, the impact you have on our community makes a difference.

Matty poses with a group of NorthStar members and staff at the NorthStar gala

Matty and NorthStar staff and members pose at the NorthStar Gala

Right now, we are in the midst of our year-end campaign. If you would like to make a difference in lives like Matty’s through supporting our programs, please consider donating to New Narrative through our Give!Guide campaign or on our website. To learn more about NorthStar Clubhouse and to donate to this program directly, visit their website at