Adopt A Unit program provides more than couches

Friday, June 10, 2011 at 1:01pm

John Henry probably never would have thought that writing for and distributing a niche newspaper about homeless issues would lead to a church giving him a couch.

That’s where the new Adopt A Unit program comes in. 

A mere two weeks old, the program — coordinated by The Key Alliance — seeks out church congregations willing to assist formerly homeless people who have found housing and need basic comforts for their living spaces. 

Henry sells The Contributor at the intersection of Harding Place and Hillsboro Road, in the shadows of the stately Covenant Presbyterian Church. As a result of logistics and salesmanship, Henry and Covenant Presbyterian are now aligned with Adopt A Unit, with the church donating to the Nashville man a couch, a chair — and some hope. 

“They have provided some things, and I have provided some. It’s livable,” said Henry, who found his apartment three months ago and moved in with almost nothing. 

“I take care of myself,” Henry said, offering appreciation for the church’s assistance and the support of The Key Alliance.

Henry started selling The Contributor in October and said he has fared relatively well. 

“But I’m trying to get back into what I do for a living,” he said of his former career as a truck driver.

As the nonprofit fundraising arm of the Metropolitan Homelessness Commission, The Key Alliance continues to unveil small-scale yet innovative programs and initiatives. For example, there are now a number of blue “parking meters” around the city in which citizens can donate spare change as an alternative to giving to panhandlers.

Clifton Harris, the organization’s executive director, said homeless people who have recently found living arrangements often encounter challenges similar to those of young people leaving college. 

“Many of us started our first apartment with nothing,” Harris said. “But a group of friends and family pitched in with a bed, a couch, a few pots and pans, towels and other things.” 

Henry is humbled by the assistance from both The Key Alliance and Covenant Presbyterian. “I talk to them every day,” he said. “They’re very good people.”