Julie Eckert

Julie Eckert

co-founder

I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2009 and moved to the D.C. area to pursue a career in journalism.  I currently work as a press secretary in the United States Senate and am studying to receive my Masters in Journalism from Georgetown University.

Throughout college, I did small volunteering projects, helping when I could while juggling the pulsating social calendar typical of an undergrad.  I volunteered once a week at the local therapeutic riding center, an experience that was all at once overwhelmingly rewarding and eye-opening.  As an equestrian, seeing the way something I have all my life taken for granted, such as an hour on horseback, could affect a person’s life in such a profound way, gave me a new appreciation for how simple it is to make a difference.

When I graduated from college, I made the decision to do something I had wanted to do since I was 16.  I decided to attend the annual Medical Mission Trip to Port Maria, Jamaica with the church I grew up in, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, MD.  My mom and I signed up and bought our plane tickets (my first big purchase in the “real world”!).  The trip was indescribable, and it changed my life.

I was welcomed into the country with a nasty bout of food poisoning that lasted a predictable 24 hours.  Then, upon my recovery, and having no medical experience whatsoever, I found myself an appointed “dental assistant.”  Decked out in scrubs, a bandana, and rubber gloves (about 2 sizes too large) I set out to learn everything I could to be of the most help during the remainder of the trip.  By the end of the week, I had memorized the name of every single dental tool (most used for yanking rotted teeth), loaded umpteen novacaine shots, and reached my gloved hand into the bloody mouth of an AIDS patient to snip some sutures.  Talk about stepping outside of one’s comfort zone! But from that moment, I knew that taking big chances and risky risks, was so utterly worth the rewards.

My passion for providing access to healthcare for children and infants, however, was instilled in me during the time I spend with the kids in Jamaica.  So innocent, yet so playful, appreciative, and happy despite having nothing, I knew that helping to better the lives of the innocent was where I wanted to direct my philanthropic attention.  This desire was confirmed in my heart when, at the end of the mission trip, our team was informed that the hospital we worked with in Jamaica was in desperate need of an infant incubator.  It was then and there that my desire to launch Operation Incubation was ignited.