An incoming Olin freshman has already been recognized with a $36,000 award for creating a business that provides “upcycled” used clothing for homeless youth in the LGBTQ community near his home.
Dillon Eisman, who starts at Olin in the fall, was one of 15 high school students from around the country to receive the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award, first bestowed in 2007 to recognize leadership and social outreach among Jewish teens. The Hebrew phrase “tikkun olam” means “repairing the world.”
Eisman, from Malibu, Calif., founded Sew Swag to update used clothing and provide it to older teens and younger adults living in shelters — work he began at age 14 and work that required him to teach himself to sew.
According to a story about Eisman in The Orange County Register, the idea grew from a tour he took of a nearby shelter for LGBTQ after he founded the gay-straight alliance at his high school.
“The fact that these kids don’t have that simple pleasure upset me,” he told the Register. “One of them said they hadn’t had a jacket in like six months. It’s not something you think about, someone my own age who is freezing at night because they don’t have a jacket. It was heartbreaking.”
Eisman told the Register that because he has a full tuition merit scholarship at WashU, he’ll apply his Diller award toward supporting Sew Swag.