Cathedral Catholic High School sophomore Daniella Benitez hosted a screening of “Dynamic Daniella,” a short documentary about her volunteer work in Mexico, at The Lot in La Jolla on Feb. 7.
The documentary is part of the Disney+ series “Marvel’s Hero Project,” with each episode chronicling the efforts of children making a difference in their communities.
Daniella, 15, began building houses in Tijuana for low-income families as a volunteer for nonprofit Build A Miracle when she was in seventh grade.
“I went down there and immediately I fell in love with everything they do,” Daniella said after the screening of the episode, which documents her second home building project.
There was also a scene that showed her receiving an award from her school for the work she’s done, and her father presenting her with the honor from Marvel, which included a package with a Hero Project jacket and customized Marvel comic. The screening last week was attended by her family, friends and Build A Miracle founders Chris and Julianne North.
Her brother Gabriel, an eighth-grader at Notre Dame Academy, also got involved. The two of them have raised more than $186,000 and built nine homes over the past few years, with two more in the works. Each one costs approximately $16,000 to build.
Daniella was initially reluctant about getting involved with Build A Miracle, but her feelings changed after the first project, when she saw the family’s reaction to their new house.
“After seeing everybody break down into tears, I felt so powerful that we are able to really change someone’s life,” Daniella said in the “Hero Project” episode.
Families who receive houses from Build A Miracle are typically homeless or live in makeshift shelters without amenities such as running water, electricity and plumbing.
For her work with Build A Miracle, Daniella was named to the Kids Board of Directors of clothing company Kidbox two years ago. Each year, the company honors children who have made a difference in their communities with positions on the board, a trip to New York and resources to help them continue their work. Her brother Gabriel was named to the Kidbox Kids Board of Directors over the past year for his work with Build A Miracle.
To illustrate Daniella as a comic book superhero, staff members at Marvel headquarters in New York gave her super strength, based on her strength of character, that enables her to lift all the building supplies to create a family’s new home. The digital version of the comic book about her work in Mexico is available for free on the Marvel website (www.marvel.com--search using Daniella’s name).
For more information about Build A Miracle, visit buildamiracle.net.