Russian River Empowerment Center helps mentally ill and homeless

Overlooking Fife creek, a community garden bordering Armstrong woods, the Russian River Empowerment Center is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all members of their community.

A West County Community Services program, the Empowerment Center draws members from all over the Guerneville community, both homeless and housed. Its mission, according to the WCCS website, is to “provide a safe haven from people chronically challenged by mental health issues.” Membership is free, and community staff and volunteers care deeply about their members and assist them with almost any need.

“We meet core needs, like food, clothing and shelter,” said Miller Phoenix, a longtime Empowerment Center volunteer. “We listen. We help people fill out Social Security applications, we advocate for them during doctor’s visits. We do all the things family would do.”

The Empowerment Center is entirely funded by the Mental Health Services Act, a California “millionaire’s tax” that imposes a 1 percent income tax on personal incomes above $1 million, in order to fund county mental health programs across the state.

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