NorthStar Clubhouse Offers Program to Underserved Communities

By Candice Jordan

Inspired by a request for Diversity-Equity-Inclusion-Accessibility (DEIA) project proposals by SE Uplift last fall, a team of members, staff and volunteers at NorthStar Clubhouse set about identifying a mission to identify a population that is underserved in the Portland Metro area. 

Armed with statistics from the City of Portland, the team identified the three largest local language communities of Limited English Proficiency (LEP) groups as Vietnamese, Russian and Spanish speakers. The team developed and submitted their proposal and were awarded two grants totaling $6,022, funded through the Office of Community & Civic Life with an additional $1,200 provided by an anonymous donor.

The first in a series of in person events as part of this project will be a presentation directed at the Vietnamese community, Tuesday, September 27, 10:30–11:30 am at the Sokhum Touch Community Center, 10323 NE Glisan St. Local Vietnamese adults who live with a mental health diagnosis, as well as their family and providers, are invited to attend. An interpreter will be present to share program information and member stories. Russian and Spanish presentations are being planned for later this year.

A Vietnamese-American member of NorthStar said, “I joined NorthStar Clubhouse in August 2021. Before I joined NorthStar, I stayed at home a lot and slept too much. I was depressed and had no place to go. I hung out at bars and gambled a lot. I wasn’t able to work full time. Having a place where I spend my time helps me feel productive and happy. I am working again.”

That member went on to say, “Before I joined NorthStar, I did not have any friends. Now I have many friends. Coming to NorthStar has made me feel more comfortable socializing. Now I go out to eat with my NorthStar friends and I have company when I go to the movies. It’s really fun!”

One of the aspects of NorthStar is the sharing of meals and socializing. The member said, “At NorthStar I help make lunch. I have taught other members to make Pho, Salad Rolls, Egg Noodles and Bo Bia. At NorthStar we have social time. I love to play Pictionary. I also love music. Sometimes we dance during social time. I love coming to NorthStar for holiday celebrations such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. We have amazing food and lots of fun at our parties. I love our 4th of July barbeques!” 

With the grants and additional support from the community, NorthStar Clubhouse hopes to increase the diversity of its membership while helping meet the mental health needs of the three communities. NorthStar has used funds to translate essential documents into the three languages selected for this year. Remaining funds will be used for presentations and interpreters to ease LEP individuals entry into its program. 

NorthStar Clubhouse is a program where adults living with mental health challenges find structure, community and peer support. NorthStar’s community supports ongoing recovery and focuses on social and vocational rehabilitation. NorthStar is a free, non-clinical program that uniquely addresses the negative symptoms of isolation and alienation through member engagement in the clubhouse. 

By working together to run this non-profit with other members and staff, members regain confidence and find a sense of purpose. This enables members to progress toward achieving their goals. NorthStar can assist members with employment, education, and other life ambitions. They also have dedicated social time and are open on all major holidays. In addition, members and staff prepare a healthy lunch daily, using their bountiful garden. 

NorthStar is accredited by Clubhouse International. Its philosophy is that every member has the potential to sufficiently recover from the effects of mental illness to lead a personally satisfying life as an integrated member of society.

Clubhouses are federally recognized by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) as an evidenced-based practice that serves over 100,000 people every year in over 320 Clubhouses in 34 countries around the world. Multiple studies have proven clubhouse effectiveness, including a significant reduction in hospital stays and a greater sense of wellbeing for its members.

Any adult living with mental health challenges wanting to go back to work, go to school, access resources or join a supportive community of peers is welcome to check out NorthStar Clubhouse. Open Monday-Friday, 9 am–5 pm, with some Thursday evenings and Saturdays for social events. For more information, northstarclubhouse.org or email communications@northstaror.org.

Photo of member Deborah K., IRCO interpreter Tonya E., new member  Ngoc Chau D. during the intake process at NorthStar Clubhouse by Candice Jordan

NorthStar Clubhouse Offers Program to Underserved Communities

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