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Greg Nelson: ‘They call me the puppet master’

Mon, Jul 22, 2013

Greg Nelson grew up just blocks from where he currently vends, at the corner of Sheffield and Fullerton on DePaul’s campus. With his trademark lion puppet, Greg has become part of the DePaul community, sometimes attending school basketball and baseball games, he said.

Greg Nelson, June 2013

I hear you just moved into an apartment.
I got it last week through StreetWise, through [my case manager] Sarah [Brown, director of programs at StreetWise], she hooked me up with Heartland. Heartland approved me for my apartment. They didn’t have the funds, so they hooked me up with Thresholds. Thresholds approved me. Actually, I did most of the work myself. StreetWise social work interns helped me. Sarah gave me a list to look for an apartment and I kept calling and calling until I found something and I ended up finding an apartment and got it in about two months

What are your goals?
My goal right now is to get back and get my GED. I went to high school and I went to college and took trades up and my goal right now is to get back in Bible study and study to be a minister and preach the gospel and save as many souls as I can.

Growing up I always wanted to be a minister and preach the gospel. I been through a whole lot myself, and I done a lot of stuff that I regret and I’m not actually able to forget myself. God told me, ‘Greg, forgive yourself, let it go, I already forgave you.’ But I can’t, because God forgives and forgets but man can forgive but not forget. So that’s why I can’t forgive myself because people don’t forget what I do.

What are some of things you’ve been through?
Well I been through the penitentiary three times. I was a horrible guy, I’m not ashamed to admit that. I was a manipulator. I was a liar. I was cheater. I stole stuff. Broke into people’s cars. All bad stuff, but I changed my life over to God like 10 years ago, and I haven’t turned back since. So now I’m a new creature, I’m a new person, and I feel good about changing myself.

Anything else you’d like to say?
I’d like to thank Cara. She gave me a couch, a T.V., she gave me mops, she gave me brooms, she gave me pots and pans and glasses, and she gave me a let-out bed, a lot of stuff: radio tapes and books picture frames and all that stuff. I’d also like to thank Ivy. She paid for me to [go and pick up and transport] that stuff from [Cara]. She buys papers from me, she always stops and talks to me. I love her voice because she’s 33 years old and she’s still got a baby voice, and it’s real sweet. She don’t like her voice, but I tell her ‘you have a very sweet voice.’

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I’d like to thank Sarah. I love her. She’s a great person. She stays by all the vendors and she loves them dearly. I just want to let her know, thank you. I appreciate her. And [ Greg [Pritchett, director of distribution and vendor services], for sticking by me, and giving me my badge, and letting me become a vendor for StreetWise. And I want to think the whole StreetWise staff.

Duncan Weinstein
StreetWise Editorial Intern

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