An Expression of Divine Love
By Jennifer Duke
April 4, 2017
The lunch bell rings and kids nationwide suffer through the social turmoil of finding friends and feeling welcome at a lunch table. Lunch time each day on campus can feel like a pit of despair filled with isolation and rejection.
I recently heard a story on CBS about a young man whose simple generosity, a smile here, kind words there, is changing lives. Denis Estimon is a Haitian immigrant who arrived in the US as a first grader. At school he felt completely isolated, friendless and unhappy. He’s older now, a high school senior, adjusted, and with many friends. Most importantly, he feels empowered to effect change. Dennis doesn’t want others to experience the same isolation and loneliness at school as he did.
So Dennis began a new lunchtime club on campus called “We Dine Together.” Its mission is to make sure no one is starving for company. He and his fellow club members seek out new or lonely kids, providing smiles, handshakes and kind words. Social barriers don’t exist in Dennis’ mind. He wants everyone to feel equally welcomed and included.
I remember clearly how I often sat alone in school, not just at lunch time. One day I sat alone on a wall during PE watching the “athletic” girls running track and the “popular” girls hanging out, talking. Shockingly, one of the most popular girls in school walked up with a beautiful smile and acted as if we were friends. To this day I recall my shock and pleasure. Although we never became great friends, I’ve always remembered her generosity, smile and willingness to break social barriers.
As my own children grew up I shared that story with them. I told them how one person’s’ generous actions have the power to change lives.
Watching big, tough, high school guys like Denis offering kindness and hope to kids who feel dejected, seeking them out and offering to sit and eat with them was one of the most beautiful stories I’ve heard in a long time. These high school boys displayed heart, joy and kindness without being asked – beautiful demonstrations of the power we each have to effect change.
“We Dine Together” has caught on around campus. So much so that a friend of Denis’ quit the football team, giving up his scholarship opportunity, to help befriend kids. The program is so well received that Denis is now trying to establish “We Dine Together” clubs in high schools across the country.
“Divine love recognizes all good persons who enter our lives as expressions of God’s love for us.”