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The Meeting

I get a text that starts something like this. “Hey, would you do me a favor . . . ” The conversation continues and I’m asked if I would be willing to give this person their 1 year sobriety tag. I respond with “Of course, I’d be honored.” I’m given the location, date, and time of the meeting.

The meeting is a ways out and I was asked if I would be willing to say a few words when the time comes. I do a fair amount of public speaking to groups of all shapes and sizes but this one, I have to admit, had me a little nervous. This is a group of people who have their PhD in street smarts, BS, strength, forgiveness, and they can tell right away if you’re being sincere or not.

I wondered what I should talk about . . . Do I talk about how I watched this person grow up and do some amazing things with their life. Do I talk about the dark times when they stumbled, fell, and almost left us for good?

In typical Lee fashion, I decide to wait and see what fills my head and heart the day of the meeting and I’ll share that.

I didn’t expect to get some help with what I was going to say that day, but I did, and it brought tears to my eyes. I received a message from this person’s mother, with her thoughts and I was given her blessing to share that with their child.

On the day of the meeting, I arrive early and walk down stairs. I’m in plan clothes and when I’m not working, I dress more like I’m going to a Tom Petty concert than a off duty cop. No cop boots, weapon logo hat, basketweave belt, etc.

I’m greeted by a big man with an even bigger smile. I tell him why I’m there and he says I can sit anywhere. I take my seat and wait for my friend.

My friend shows up and the meeting starts. They take care of some housekeeping issues and we begin. I sit quietly in my chair and listen to amazing stories of pain, suffering, loss, faith, healing, forgiveness, and humility. I’m honored to be in the presence of such vulnerability without any judgment.

It’s my friends turn to be honored and I stand next to them. I’m sweaty, my throat is dry, and my eyes are not. I share a little and then I read what their mom wrote. They receive their 1 year tag and we sit back down.

The meeting is over and I head for home . . .

My friend texts me and thanks me for being a part of their day. I remind them of what a big accomplishment this is and how proud I am of them. They said I could write about this if I wanted, but to keep in vague, and I’ve been sitting on this post for quite sometime. I wanted to share it, but also be respectful of the privacy of the meeting and it’s members.

I decided to share it after making sure it was vague and here’s why. I want my friend to see this and know how proud and honored I am to call them a friend. I know how hard they’ve worked and it’s not gone unnoticed. I also want this to maybe make its way to someone who knows they have a problem, but don’t know where to start or maybe feel unworthy of forgiveness and change. Trust me, you’re worthy!

We have meeting times and locations posted in our lobby as well as some pamphlets that are free for anyone. If you have a smart phone, you can also download apps for meetings in your area.

To my friend . . . I’m proud of you, you’re an inspiration and my door is always open.

Stay safe,


This post was originally published on December 11, 2018 on Kenyon Police Department’s Facebook page.

Lee Sjolander
Chief of Police
Kenyon Police Department, Minnesota