Noteworthy #2: Eli VanOort

What is it the most significant thing you feel you have done to make a difference in the lives of other people?
Immediately, I think think of my summer spent working with a refugee ministry in Athens, Greece as my greatest moment of “making a difference”, but its significance is actually quite small. The road that these homeless, hopeless and ignored refugees is long and never-ending, in the end, my few months spent feeding, entertaining and loving these women and children traveling the Refugee Highway was certainly making a difference in their lives, but ‘signifcant’, I’m not sure.
I think the greatest difference I’ve made in the lives of others has been through the sharing of my experiences and relaying the stories of those I grew close to in my experiences outside of my comfort zone.

What motivated your heart?
My motivation to serve for a summer in Athens and now spend a year with AmeriCorps comes primarily from my realization that I have been blessed with an education, a supportive family, youth and health. And while that leads me more towards an obligation to give back, I do it because I believe that service is part of who I am and I constantly want to discover more about this the role I play in God’s world.

How did it change you?
Now more than I ever I believe that every human being deserves an advocate. I believe that my future will continue to explore that type of work.

What is your favorite quote?
"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures." --Thornton Wilder
I saw this in a coffee shop in Holland, MI a year ago. Since then I remind myself daily to be completely and fully aware of who I am with and what I am doing. Recognizing each day, each experience, each conversation as a ‘treasure’ is the best way to give back to the Creator.

Favorite picture you have taken:
I spent a summer as a camp counselor in the US Virgin Islands. This picture just makes me super happy.

Favorite picture of yourself:
Well, I like this one mostly because of who is in the picture with me!

If you have a cause you're passionate about, what can people do to help?
One of the biggest needs I realized while in Athens is that many refugees are going with underwear. It’s a basic thing that we all take for granted, so since I returned I’ve exchanged my Christmas presents to friends for a pair of underwear for a refugee in Athens. My church’s also did an underwear drive and we were able to send over 300 pairs of underwear to Helping Hands (the organization I worked with in Athens). This gets a little costly with shipping, but it’s a unique way to meet a very appreciated and tangible need. If you’d like to send to refugees in Greece, email me ( and I can hook you up with the appropriate address. Of course, I’m sure you could find an organization in your community that provides people with clothing that would love to receive some new underwear to distribute as well!