Yesterday was the fundraising ceremony of the Anoka County Sheriff, Sheriff James Stuart at the Harvest Grill in Coon Rapids. As at the time I arrived at the event, the snow had just started dropping some few stone-like ice on the floor. It was also starting to get a little bit chilly. When I arrived at the venue with my son, Sam we passed through a wide hallway painted in cream to the hall where there were guests seated and dinning. At the entrance of the room was a signing table with name badges to write your name on. But before we signed in, we greeted the Sheriff, who was also standing at the entrance to welcome his guests. He was excited to us. He was meeting Sam for the first time and asked, “Is this your son?” As I was saying, “Yes,” he turned to Sam and bent down stretching his hands forward to say hello with a hand shake. Then he said, “Nice to meet you.” Sam said, “Hello.” However, Sheriff Stuarts quickly showed his concern for the depressing weather that was beginning to show up after much publicity in the weather forecast about its unwelcoming visit.
Sheriff Stuart asked, “Are the roads bad already?” I replied, “No. Actually it’s just starting to snow.” With anxiety in his tone of voice, he said, “Let the road be good and let people arrive safely before it starts to get bad,” adding quickly, “let them go back home safely too.” Having a bad weather looming when having an important event definitely can make the hosts anxious regardless of whom. Fortunately, guests kept showing up in their numbers at the event. After taking our seat with some guests at a table, I saw a crowd at the door signing in. Meanwhile, there was considerable number of guests already in the room by the time we showed up.
There were about 100 people in the room. I was not surprised at the turnout. Sheriff Stuart has been an effective sheriff, who is committed to the community. I know him personally with the human trafficking advocacy efforts he has continued to take active actions upon in the county. I am glad I went and hope that he get re-elected into office to continue his laudable efforts. Two slide shows were on featuring his efforts in the community.
As we went to take a seat, I decided to go to a table with guests, but had some free seats. I asked one of the ladies at the table, “Can we join you.” The lady I asked, Diana said, “Yes.” Sam took a seat beside her, while I sat next to Sam. I quickly recognized the other lady. She is the president of the Metro North Chamber of Commerce, Lori Higgins. After seating for a minute, I asked Sam if I could get him a plate of food. Then Diana, said, “The food is good.” I took Sam to the food table and got him a plate of meatballs, crackers, and chicken on a stick. I felt full because of the meal I ate just before I headed to the event, so I did not get any food for myself. I however continued to sip my cup of water, which was on the table, while Sam just nibbled a little bit on his food.
Diana asked me curiously, “How did you know the sheriff? With a smile, I said, “I know him through human trafficking advocacy. I have a TV Show called Imprisoned Show featuring issues of human trafficking and I had him and the county attorney as a guests on the show.” Nodding her head in agreement she said, “O yeah! He is a good man. He does good things in the community.” Quickly, she pointed the legislative member who was also sitting at the table to me. I greeted the other people at the table, but it was Lori first and she asked about my business. After telling her that business was okay. At some point in the conversation, Diana was confused about what I do because Lori had said that I had a hair braiding shop. In trying to explain what that meant to Diana, I pulled up a picture from Bukola Braiding Facebook page to explain what we meant to her. I also told her that hair braiding is what brings food to my table and that the TV show is my advocacy work to help others. Then Lori tried to explain further, she said to Diana, “The hair braiding is her work and the TV is what she does on the side.” I however said to Lori, “We have a nonprofit now. Imprisoned Show is under the nonprofit. It’s called The Enitan Story.” She nodded her head and said, “Okay.” Aside from Lori, every other person on the table asked me how I knew the sheriff and I had to explain again and again.
Diana asked, “Where are you from?” “Nigeria,” I said. “So, how did you get here?” “It’s a long story, “I replied. Then she said, “My story is a long story too. I was in a bad accident seven years ago and was in the hospital for nine months. I was in my own comma for three months.” I was speechless. I just muttered “Whoah!” I am sorry to hear that.” She continued and said, “I went to heaven. I saw my sister, who had died years ago. I saw Jesus but he told me you have to go back to earth. I said to Jesus, I want to stay here with my sister. He said no, you have to go back but make sure you help someone every day.” I was still trying to comprehend everything she was telling me when she added, “I have been helping people every day.”
As a result of the accident, she had to relearn her alphabets. She has even forgotten everything from her past. She uses a walker now, but she is a strong woman. I asked her, “Can you read now? Or can someone read to you if I give you my book? She said, “Yes.” I was relieved and told her I was going to give her a copy of my book so that she can learn more about me. I made a quick trip to the snowing parking lot (at this time, the snow had started falling heavily), grabbed a copy of my book, came back in and signed it to her. I wrote, “You are a gift to the world.” She said someone is working on a book about her story and that she will give me a copy when the book is out.
She excused herself from the table to greet other guests. Then she came back with a lady, whom she introduced to me. I greeted the lady and then, it was time for Diana to go. The man who came with her said, “I have a meeting to go, so we have to go now,” with a sense of urgency in his voice. Diana was leaving and said to me, “Call me, I will like to go out to coffee with you. I am serious, I mean it.” I said to her, “Sure. I will like to go out with you. You are a gift to the world.” She left and by the time I looked, the table was almost empty leaving me and Sam behind.
Shortly after, a lady came up to the table to ask, “Can we join you? I said, “Yes. The other people on the table seem to have left.” Her husband and son joined her. She turned to her son and said, “See, there is another little boy here,” as if to assure him that he was not alone. She asked how old my son was, I said, seven.” She asked, “Is he in second grade? I said, “No, first grade.” Her son is in second grade. We continued to talk and we talked about the sheriff and his good work in the community. After I told her how I got connected to the sheriff, she told me that she has a sister who is a board member to a nonprofit in another state where they advocate against human trafficking, among others.
Surprisingly, I found that she is the City of Ramsey Mayor, Sarah Stormmen. I gave her The Enitan Story’s brochure and she gave me her business card. I told her that I am planning to go to cities and do “Imprisoned Show In Your City” with the City mayors and some community members during the summer, and she welcome me to come over to the City of Ramsey. Like I said to her, you never know whom you will meet when you go to a community event of such magnitude. While I was talking to her, I caught a glimpse of the County Attorney, Attorney Tony Palumbo and wanted to make sure I saw the right person so I asked her to help me confirm and she said, “Yes, that is the county attorney.” I think he was also leaving, so I excused myself to go to him to greet just before he walked out of the door. He was excited when he said, “BUKOLA” how are you?” stretching his arms to embrace me like a father. I said, “Fine” with a smile and thanked him for his work in the community. He was with Sheriff Stuart on Imprisoned Show in 2012 to talk about their efforts in fighting human trafficking in the community.
Overall, it was exciting night. I hope that Sheriff Stuart get re-elected to continue with his commendable efforts in the community.
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Bye for now, until next time.