Who: Some Twin Cities big whigs (including the mayor) and other friends of the American Refugee Committee?
What: Band Together 2010
Where: Dakota Jazz Club?
When: Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Why: On a cold winter night, we were in the mood for some good food, great friends, relaxing music, and supporting a worthwhile cause.
It’s easy to take advantage of all the comforts life has to offer: warm clothes, a place to sleep, food to eat, etc. This holiday season (yes, we consider November a festive time of year) we decided to stop by the American Refugee Committee’s Band Together event at the Dakota Jazz Club to not only put things back in perspective, but to also catch a fantastic soiree with 260 other Twin Citians. The event kicked off with music by SUNplug’d with political refuge Kenn Wanaku from the British Cameroons. As we meandered through the guests, we stopped to chat with Mayor Rybak and his wife, Megan. We were sidetracked, however, when an eighth grader from Anthony Middle School approached us to sell a Tukul Basket (it’s okay, we didn’t know what it was either). Said student explained that a Tukul is a handmade basket by refugees in Rwanda in the shape of an African house, and inside were prizes. We saw people win everything from two private pilates sessions to Wild tickets to a two-night stay at the Sauntry Mansion in Stillwater. Talk about tukul-tastic!
After a quick stop to chat with General Mills CEO Ken Powell, we looked on as everyone took his or her seats throughout the entire two-story space. Then IBe, a refugee from Koindu, shared a moving poem with the attendees about his experiences at home in Sierra Leone. Koindu was the first town attacked in the Sierra Leonean civil war, and the poem recounts his last few hours at home—when his family tried to pack in the midst of distant gunfire before fleeing across the border to Guinea.
Partygoers listened to Messiah’s Men, the African Christian male ensemble, followed by comments from Daniel Wordsworth, president of the American Refugee Committee. The scent wafting from Dakota head chef Jack Riebel’s Haitian-inspired meal was enough to make our stomach’s growl, and, trust us, the meal did not disappoint. Nor did the live auction, which offered items such as a day with Riebel in the kitchen as well as a luxury stay in Phuket Thailand. At the end of the day, the event raised about $120,000 . . . a job well done for all those involved.
The night concluded with headliner Emeline Michel taking to the stage to perform some of her Haitian-inspired musical pieces. Though we had to slip out early, we left with a smile on our face and a resolve to make this holiday season one about giving support, assistance, and devotion wherever it is needed.