To Angela Staton, who just passed her 60-day sober mark, the program is a lifesaver.
Staton, 30, said she too had tried to break a seven-year habit many times.
"I'm going to complete this program," said Stanton, who dreams of reuniting with her 2-year-old daughter, who's currently in the care of her father. "I want to be able to deal with life on life's terms. I want to go to work."
Turn It Over quickly outgrew its first location and last year moved into a 50,000-square-foot former push-pin factory on Berkley Street in Germantown.
The move provided room enough for meetings and activities that Amos says he has borrowed from his sundry recovery attempts and retooled for his two-year program. The program is a collection of attitude adjustment meetings and random urine tests, personal growth and job training, tough love and high school equivalency classes. It eschews formal components, like an on-site psychotherapist.
A major part of the program is community volunteerism and self-sufficiency. Along Wayne Avenue, between Manheim and Clapier streets, the program runs a bakery, and an automotive and washer/dryer repair shops. Future plans include a grocery and a dry cleaner in cooperation with the Korean American Dry Cleaners Association, Morris said.
"Here we say we're going to roll up our shirtsleeves and go out into the community because we're part of the reason why the community is the way it is," said Amos.
According to Amos, one strength of the program is that it serves those who have no health insurance, about 58 percent of those enrolled. Those people ''pay" in community service and by working in the organization's businesses. Those with income, usually welfare, pay $40 a month in food stamps and $40 a week in cash, Amos said.
Amos' partner, Herbert Morris, 58, said the program will maintain its uniqueness while it expands. Turn It Over will look for private funding to augment profits from businesses it operates.
The program is endorsed by state Sen. Chaka Fattah's Drug Free in '93 campaign. Marlene Pryor, head of Concerned Neighbors of Greater Germantown, also gives her approval. She said she counts on program volunteers to help her run a community soup kitchen. Volunteers also support other neighborhood ventures.
But some residents say they feel inundated by recovery houses, a feeling heightened by Turn It Over's rapid growth. About 235 people are in the program and many live in 11 houses owned by Amos within blocks of each other. Others come to lower Germantown daily from around the city.
There's concern that lower Germantown will suffer like other sections of the city where clusters of recovery houses are unlicensed, overcrowded and run only for profit, said one community leader.
(The Department of Licenses and Inspection has issused violations against three of Amos' properties, but none that threaten to shut down the operation, an L&I spokesman said.)
Adrian Powell, president of Southwest Germantown Association, said the program accomplishes good things, but that he and other residents are concerned about the number of people the program dispatches to community meetings that could swing votes on issues their way, permanently affecting the neighborhood.