By Mike Schuh

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The figures are pretty dismal. 75 percent of those who are released from prison, will be back behind bars within five years.

And only half of those who remain free have jobs. That’s why what’s happening in the basement of Zion Baptist Church every Tuesday is so remarkable.

It’s called “Turnaround Tuesday,” and it’s used to help get those who have hit rock bottom get back on their feet.

Most inmates think they’ve hit rock bottom where they’re behind bars.

But once they get out, the lack of a job means rock bottom can come with freedom.

Not everyone heading into the basement at Zion Baptist is an ex-con, but a lot are.

Doing great now, but for 10 years, Collie Thomas was locked up.

In prison, she prayed for change. That she would change.

“Oh, so much has changed, from the person she was before she walked in that door,” Thomas said.

The door she found is at “Turnaround Tuesday,” where people learn how to live, how to lead, and how to succeed.

“So today, we’re going to be talking about what is a leader, and why do we follow people,” said co-director Terrell Williams.

Williams says many have followed the wrong people. Thomas sure did.

“Poor decisions, poor decisions, poor decisions,” she said.

And during her time in prison, she never learned to communicate without getting angry. A common thread in those who have a hard time getting and keeping a job.

“Many of our people say, ‘That’s just how I am. I’ve always been that way.’ Well if everybody tells you you’re wrong, you need to look at that, because there is a way you act in our neighborhood that is totally illegitimate in the workplace,” Williams said.

So besides hands-on coaching from volunteers from the International Coach Federation, those who’ve gotten, and kept, jobs have looked inward.

It’s what led Thomas to a supervisory position at Hopkins Hospital.

“They better be ready, because it’s a journey,” she said.

A journey that begins below street level, right after hitting rock bottom.

The “Turnaround Tuesday” group also meets at a different church on Tuesday afternoons.

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