Potomac, MD | 19
2014 Award Recipient
Katie Hamelburg knew members of United Synagogue Youth (USY) 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 for connecting teens across North America to available 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 everything from 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. Katie actively mentored her successor, who expanded the project to become Operation 54,000. This goal was exceeded as well!