About Us

People Empowering People, also known as PEP, is a consumer-directed-and-managed program operated by the 501c3 nonprofit, Circle of Friends. 
 PEP is funded by the Mental Health Services Act as administered by Napa County Mental Health.

All team members at the PEP Center are current consumers of mental health services.  At PEP, we understand each other because we have had many common experiences and can relate to the struggles of living with mental illness. We at PEP, share a common bond. We live by the motto, “Nothing about us without us”.

At PEP, everything is confidential, and PEP’s Drop-In Resource Center is held within a strict “no hate zone” at all times.  We have “PEP Rules”, which were created by the consumers. We run by a “Peer-to-Peer” process.

The PEP Team is led on a day-to-day basis by our Coordinator, Tina Kirchmeier and assisted by Doug Russell, Interim Activities Coordinator. Susie Frank is the Executive Director of Circle of Friends, and Co- Project Directors Susie Frank and Jackie Shepherd, Director of Services of Circle of Friends oversee management of PEP.

Contact any of our co-coordinators or co-project directors via email.
Click the individual's name above.

History of Circle of Friends


The Solano Network of Mental Health Consumers/Circle of Friends was formed and incorporated by and for consumers in 1991, and since then has provided consumer-directed-and -managed self-help, wellness and recovery services. 

From 1991-2006, Circle of Friends developed and ran three centers in Solano County, including the primarily Latino-oriented Dixon center, which was funded by The California Endowment. Also Circle of Friends ran a "bi-lingual warm line", which was operated by and for consumers. During this period, a Wellness and Recovery Action Plan® , based on the work of Mary Ellen Copeland, was introduced to Solano County. These Plans were consumer-developed and included instructions for contacting the Crisis Center, should psychiatric interventions be necessary. We also provided consultation services to consumer-based organizations in California and beyond.  By 2005-06, we were serving a minimum of 200 consumers/day and 500-600 unduplicated consumers annually.

In the spring of 2007, Circle of Friends was awarded an ongoing contract under the Mental Health Services Act to establish and operate a drop-in adult resource center in Napa County.  Formal program activities began in February 2008, and today the “PEP” Center serves an average of 29 consumers per day, 5 days a week. We will be able to accommodate an even greater daily attendance when we have moved to our new, larger site, which is planned for the beginning of 2012 and will be located at 3281 Solano Ave., Napa, CA 94558.