La Jolla teen readies San Diego for disaster


By Jake Ewald


Max Einhorn’s road to success started with a lemonade stand.

He and a friend doled out chilly cups of the sugary drink to friends, family and passers-by, while learning about signage, pricing and playing to an advantage.

“We played the ‘cute’ card pretty heavily,” says Einhorn, now 18 and a recipient of the $36,000 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam award, which he will receive on Aug. 31. Tikkun olam is a Hebrew phrase that means “repair the world,” according to a news release announcing the prize.

The award is given to five Jewish teens in California each year for community service and leadership. The awards are funded by the Helen Diller Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma counties.

As a senior at La Jolla High School last year, Einhorn started the Entrepreneurs Club with the goal of educating members on starting businesses through guest speakers and real-life experience. The club led to Disaster Aware, his award-winning cause.

On a mission

“Disaster Aware’s mission is to educate and raise awareness of the need for disaster preparedness throughout the community,” he explained recently.

After the devastation of the 2007 wildfires, he began volunteering at 2-1-1 (San Diego’s disaster hotline) and saw the need for preparation.

“San Diego is 20 years overdue for its next major earthquake, and most of the city is susceptible to flood as well as fire. Even so, almost no one I spoke with in San Diego was properly prepared for any form of natural disaster.”

Learning from mom

Although the lemonade stand was dismantled years ago, its principles remain with him.

“My mom is a businesswoman, and ever since I was in elementary school, she has talked to me about her daily business situations,” Einhorn said. “She would mention that day’s real estate negotiation, investment opportunity, or an interesting story she read in the newspaper.”

As he grew older, his mother would ask him to try to solve that day’s issue on his own.

“I got just as much pleasure coming to a different conclusion so long as I could back it up with solid reasoning,” he added.

Einhorn also drew part of his inspiration for Disaster Aware from Muhammed Yunus, a Bangledeshi economist. After seeing him on “60 Minutes,” Einhorn said he “found (Yunus’) ideas about how a business can help its community while also making a profit brilliant.”

Working a deal

From there, Einhorn negotiated with his high school and the Red Cross to sell disaster preparedness kits customized with fire readiness items to the public. The profits from the kits went to bringing in well-known guests speakers such as Sammi Ladeki, the owner of Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza, and Ralph Rubio, owner of Rubio’s, and to donate to 2-1-1.

The Entrepreneurs Club now boasts 180 members, has sold 300 kits and has donated more than $10,000 to 2-1-1.

This fall, Einhorn will be part of the University of Pennsylvania’s Civic Scholars program (he was one of 15 students chosen for the elite group), but he leaves the Entrepreneurs Club in the hands of his trusted cabinet members.

Using the prize

With the $36,000 prize money, Einhorn will “set up a donor-advised fund and use the money to donate to several causes … including 2-1-1 San Diego, the Red Cross and the Hand Up Youth Food Pantry (a 100 percent teen-run food pantry Einhorn led from its creation).”

And next on his agenda: “I am going to be a successful person. I specifically use the word successful instead of wealthy or powerful because I don’t value either as much as I value success. I plan on finding something that I am passionate about and becoming the very best at it.” Jake Ewald is an intern from La Jolla.

Want to help?

To learn how to donate or volunteer at 2-1-1, visit


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