Checking in with John Henry

John Henry moved into housing on Aug. 28, and we said we would once in a while check in on how he is doing. So today, Judy went out to see John who is busy writing another article for The Contributor. John told her that he started writing while he was homeless in Nashville. In his writing he focuses on the spiritual aspects of life. Writing has given him a voice to speak out for the downtrodden.

Asked about how everything is going so far, John said he’s been pleased overall. His routine involves getting up in the morning and taking the long bus drive to downtown and then out to Green Hills where he sets up at his location on Hillsboro and Harding to sell The Contributor. John has written over 50 articles for The Contributor and his customers meanwhile expect to see his byline in the paper. If an issue goes by where his articles are not included, John writes it out by hand and makes copies at the library. Then he sticks the copies into his regulars’ papers. “They’ve come to expect to see an article from me,” he said.

Being lonely is not new to John. He became homeless at a very young age when he lost his family because he decided against following his family and changing his faith (read about it in The Contributor’s Vendor Spotlight).

“When I lost my family, I got problems trusting anybody,” John said, adding that he was very close to his six sisters and two brothers growing up in rural Mississippi. The loneliness sometimes creeps back in, he said, when he is alone in his apartment.

But John keeps busy and is making a conscious effort to keep his housing. One such decision still weighs rather heavy on him. He said he had not been sleeping well since pleading guilty on Monday for an aggravated trespassing charge. He said he would have pleaded not-guilty and fought the charge had he still been homeless. He received it shortly before he moved into his new apartment and felt very strongly that it was not justified. But he did not want to risk being arrested and losing his apartment.

“I didn’t want to risk losing what I have here,” John said, pointing around his kitchen and living room.

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