Adult learners do so much to change their lives and lift the lives of their loved ones. Their stories encompass great acts of inspiration and generosity, and their journeys build hope, brighter futures, and blossoming friendships.
The Literacy Council of Grand Island (LCGI) helps adults across Grand Island, Nebraska gain the literacy skills necessary to communicate, grow, and thrive in the community.
We want to share the story of a dedicated LCGI tutor and his inspirational student, and the wonderful friendship that emerged during their time together.
A Simple Twist of Fate: Dennis and Densel
by Madison Moe, LCGI Educational Programming Coordinator
One of Densel’s favorite quotes, which means so much to Dennis as well, was from Fred Rogers: “If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
Dennis De Leon started his journey to the Literacy Council from his home country of Guatemala. Dennis worked with tutor Densel Rasmussen (b. 1955 — d. 2017) at the Literacy Council for many years, and during that time they grew very close. They would even meet at Densel’s house on Wednesday nights to study, share a meal, and watch “Modern Family.”
When Densel became ill, Dennis moved into Densel’s house to help him as he became more and more dependent upon others for daily tasks. During their years together, Dennis and Densel grew to be like family. During this time, Dennis became fluent in English, thanks to his work with Densel.
Although Densel has now passed on, the impact he left on Dennis’ life and the lives of others in our community continues to be seen. Dennis was inspired by Densel to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, and to pursue teaching with the Literacy Council. He said that he could hear Densel telling him to continue spreading the good.
The student has become the teacher.
After graduating from the Literacy Council's program, Dennis began volunteering there. He now teaches biweekly group classes for Spanish speakers. Dennis feels that by volunteering, he is honoring Densel, whom he considers to have been a father to him.
“To me he was my dad even though he didn’t bring me into this world, because he did something better: He gave me a good life to live, and I am on the right path that he set me on. He made me the person who I am right now.”
— Dennis De Leon
We all miss Densel Rasmussen, and honor his memory for the time and effort he dedicated to the Literacy Council and to other organizations in our community. Dennis wants us all to remember Densel’s life motto, which Dennis uses as a guide for how he wants to live his life now: “Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.”
View more inspirational stories like this one at https://www.giliteracy.org/blog. Follow LCGI on Twitter @litcouncilofgi or like the organization on Facebook at @LitCouncilofGI.