Headshot Photo of Katie Hamelburg
2014 Award Recipient


Project Operation 18,000

Location Potomac, MD

Issue Area Philanthropy

Katie knew United Synagogue Youth (USY) members wanted and could do more to change the world through volunteer projects that resonate with them most. With this as her goal, Katie launched Operation 18,000 to activate USY members to volunteer more and with greater focus. The goal was 18,000 volunteer hours in a single calendar year, 2013. Katie developed an online platform that utilized a matching algorithm to connect teens across North America to volunteer opportunities in their local communities.

The platform went further and tracked, measured, and publicized the teens’ collective efforts. Teens engaged in and led an array of social service projects, including volunteering at assisted living centers to providing aid for victims of natural disasters. During its first year, Operation 18,000 far exceeded its goal, with more than 600 teens volunteering a total of 32,686 hours.

The combination of Jewish values and social justice was a foundation of Operation 18,000, imparting the value of tikkun olam in teenagers across North America.

Katie Hamelburg
“It is never too late, too early, or too often TO GIVE BACK AND MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE”
Helen Diller