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First annual Martin J. Walsh Alumni Award presented on nonprofit’s 50th anniversary

Trevor McCarthy, 28, of Plymouth, talked with Richard Curcuru (center), president and CEO Gosnold Behavioral Health, and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh at Gosnold Behavioral Health’s 50th anniversary Gala fund-raiser Wednesday.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Trevor McCarthy wanted to be a rock star.

The Quincy native wrote songs and played guitar in a band with his friends until about 10 years ago when he showed up drunk to shoot a music video in New Hampshire. He’d already been struggling with alcohol for a few years, and his friends had had enough and kicked him out of the group.

Now 28, McCarthy is three years sober and has committed himself to help others who are battling drug and alcohol addiction find a path to recovery. He works as a clinical manager for Evoke Wellness in Cohasset.

On Wednesday, McCarthy was honored as the first recipient of the Martin J. Walsh Alumni Award at the Gosnold Behavioral Health Gala at the Artists for Humanity Epicenter in South Boston.


“I would never have expected this five years ago,” McCarthy said. “I’m so honored and excited. My family, more than anything, that’s the biggest excitement for me is that they get to see me do this.”

McCarthy, a graduate of Archbishop Williams High School who lives in Plymouth, was joined by his parents and three younger siblings at the ceremony and gala Wednesday night, a milestone in his journey to recovery that was marked by painful relapses and renewed attempts at sobriety.

Walsh has been there. The former Boston mayor now serving as labor secretary in the Biden administration has long been public about his own struggles with alcohol and continues to be a source of accountability and support for others dealing with addiction.

Walsh entered treatment with Gosnold in April 1995. He said he hasn’t had a drink since then.

“I had a chance to talk with Trevor a little while ago. ... We talked about living life a day at a time,” Walsh said in an interview. “I explained to him a little bit about my first day and first night [at Gosnold], how uncomfortable it was and thinking my life was not going to end up [as it has]. No matter what you achieve in life, it’s not about success and it’s not about the title. It’s about a day at a time and staying sober.”


The gala and award presentation were attended by about 200 people, including Governor Charlie Baker and members of the state Legislature. The ceremony also marked 50 years since the nonprofit addiction recovery center opened on Cape Cod.

Walsh received standing applause as he was introduced by Gosnold CEO Richard Curcuru.

“He believes in what we do, and I think it’s wonderful that he continues to help people with long-term recovery,” Curcuru said in an interview.

The organization wanted to name the award for Walsh because he is a “testament ... that this is possible,” Curcuru said.

“It was an opportunity to acknowledge somebody like Marty who’s done a remarkable job with their own recovery,” he said. “And this young man, Trevor, is a very impressive young man who has overcome one of the most difficult things you can overcome.”

Walsh has famously maintained the same phone number for years so people he’s supporting in recovery can reach him.

In a brief interview, Baker lauded Walsh for his commitment to helping those in recovery.

“All these folks know his number and use it all the time, and he constantly tries to help them,” Baker said in an interview after the awards.


“When he tells his story, he grabs people and he grabs people because it’s authentic and it’s genuine and it’s positive,” Baker added.

The stigma of addiction surrounded McCarthy as he went through the throes of alcoholism. His father, Dan McCarthy, said when Trevor’s younger siblings would have friends over, “we would try to hide Trevor, try to keep him separate.”

“One of the bridges we crossed was that we told our kids, it’s OK to say your brother is unhappy, it’s OK to say he’s drunk. It’s OK to say that, and then we took the next step,” he said.

Trevor McCarthy said he spent several birthdays in the hospital, starting with his 22nd, after he developed alcohol-induced pancreatitis. When his father tried to convince him to check into a recovery center, it took three days of discussion before he agreed to go.

McCarthy said he relapsed at least a half dozen times in the years that followed and kept checking back into Gosnold for another swing at sobriety.

“I knew I didn’t want to die from this,” he said. “The hero in my story is my father. He is 100 percent the reason I’m here.”

McCarthy has been getting back to writing music, so maybe that dream of being a rock star is still alive. His father said that when McCarthy’s younger brothers and sister look at him now, they already see one.