The St. Louis Empowerment Center is a peer run recovery drop-in center designed to meet the needs of individuals who are consumers of mental health services or who have co-occuring disorders. The Center provides opportunities for program participants to create an empowering, non-hierarchical environment of their own design in which self-help and mutual aid flourish.
Individuals at the Center develop skills and competencies through exposure to their peers. Support groups and educational programs are formed in response to the needs of those in attendance. Leadership skills develop because of the need for leadership. Decision-making is participatory and rules and standards of behavior are self-imposed and self-enforced.
There is no right way to use a peer-run drop-in center. Some program participants simply want companionship and the opportunity to enjoy a cup of coffee, or to participate in group recreation. Others use on-site resource materials to locate food pantries or housing. There are some individuals who make use of our computer lab to develop résumés or to reconnect with loved ones. Some people visit the Center everyday and others stop by when they're feeling bored, lonely, or are in crisis. Learning and growth occur because people choose to participate in activities that foster healing. People move on because they are ready and because they want to do so - not because their benefits have been exhausted.