Our Vendors 

Gregg Cole: Sharing his story first-hand

Wed, Mar 28, 2012

My name is Gregg. A lot of people call me Steve. I grew up in Uptown and the Lakeview area. As a child, I never felt good about myself. I saw people who were having a lot of fun drinking and drugging, so I joined in on what I thought was fun. It gave me a lot of courage, but after awhile it turned into a way of life. This turned into a lot of trouble.

Anyway, the reason I started selling StreetWise was because I had a job at a Shell Station on Addison and Ashland. The Shell was bought out after I worked there for three years. I started selling StreetWise in hopes of gaining a good job. I really do enjoy selling StreetWise and I’ve met a lot of people. I do believe that what is important in life is relationships. I’ve met a lot of people from all walks of life selling StreetWise. I’ve learned a lot – from the kids at Martial Arts, where I sell in Lincoln Square, to the pigeons on the ground. The kids inspire me the way they are motivated, even after going to school, and the parents being there for them after a hard day on the job. I appreciate watching the pigeons wait patiently for someone to drop food on the ground. I really enjoy the journey of selling StreetWise and building all of these relationships. At the same time, StreetWise is supposed to be a hand-up, not a hand-out. I was never looking for sympathy selling StreetWise.

I just wanted to work hard and sell a product to maintain a roof over my head. Selling StreetWise is not an easy job, but I am grateful for it. You don’t know what you are going to make on a daily basis and that can become a little fearful. For the last two years, I have been able to keep a roof over my head thanks to my supporters. I want to take this further. I want to go to school to become an addiction counselor. I used to drink and drug. Now I have stayed sober, one day at a time, for nine years. My experiences can be used as assets to help others who are coming from where I came from. StreetWise has given me the flexibility to go to school. I was granted a PELL Grant and have the chance to do that. This summer I will be starting at the bottom because I didn’t reach college level, but the grant pays for the classes that I need to take. I will be attending Harold Washington College. The only scary thing is that I need to be able to afford my rent while I achieve this goal. It’s going to take a couple of years. I hope I will continue to get support so I can move forward with what I have a passion for. I hope to help people who have come from where I came from. I know people have other vendors, other support things they give to and bills of their own. Some can and come can’t, some will and some won’t. And it’s none of my business why or why not. I humbly do not take the support I get for granted.

I hope you can continue to support, so I can go to school and maintain a roof over my head. My hours will probably change when I start school, but I will be there. If there is anything I’ve learned on my journey it’s that I can’t change the world around me, but I’m in control of changing myself. Deep down in every human there is love and understanding. I know we all have problems. Change is not easy, but it’s possible. I found, even in my addiction, people loved me. I didn’t see it then, but I see it now. So I try not to take it for granted today. If there is anything you want to ask, feel free. I am open to my story.

- Your StreetWise vendor, Steve Gregg

Click here for Gregg’s location & hours.


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