Catholic Cathedral Students and Siblings Receive President’s Volunteer Service Award


Two siblings and high school students each received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for their work with Build a Miracle, a non-profit organization that builds homes for low-income families in Mexico.

“It was super exciting because it was a small reward for all the work my brother and I do, and it’s cool to be recognized for that and also to be able to show others and set an example what to do good things for others is important, ”said Daniella Benitez, 16.

Daniella and her 14-year-old brother Gabriel attend Cathedral Catholic High School.

“It was great fun doing all this volunteer work,” said Gabriel.

Gabriel and Daniel Benitez


The two have raised over $ 200,000 for the association, which requires $ 16,000 to build each house. They have helped build 11 houses since they got involved. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they followed the construction of a 12th house via FaceTime.

“A lot of Build a Miracle actually goes to Mexico and physical construction, which we haven’t been able to do,” Daniella said. “This year we’ve focused a lot on raising awareness for the cause which we can do remotely through social media or by talking to our friends and family.”

Build a Miracle has built more than 300 homes since 1999, according to its website. The idea for the association began in 1985 when founders Chris and Julianne North met in Tecate, while they were painting the dormitory of an orphanage and a boys’ home.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award was accompanied by letters signed by President Joe Biden congratulating Daniella and Gabriel for the work they have done to “contribute to the public good” and “to help discover and propose solutions to the challenges facing us. are confronted ”.

Daniella first got involved at the age of 12 while attending Notre Dame Academy, which sponsored the construction of a house in Tijuana. She then assembled a group of 16 members, mostly children her age, to contribute $ 1,000 towards the cost of a fully furnished house. His brother also got involved.

Building homes with Build a Miracle is “something that has really changed our lives,” Daniella said, and she and her brother want to stay involved for the long haul.

“I hope we can import these homes to California soon, if there is a chance to do so,” said Gabriel. “It would be such an amazing thing to do.”

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