Danielle ‘raizes’ hope from the tragedy of loss

Danielle Dal Cortivo… “I think about how incredibly blessed I am to be born in Canberra, into a family where education is valued.” Photo by Danielle Nohra

AFTER her best friend died at 21, Woden’s Danielle Dal Cortivo decided to do something with her life that mattered.

Still unsure of what exactly that was, and inspired by a documentary, she travelled to Tanzania with a friend to do some volunteering in an orphanage.

When returning home her desire to make a difference hadn’t faded and discussing the trip with her brother Lincoln, who works as a carpenter, he shared his idea of building a house then giving it to a family in need.

From that conversation the charity “raize the roof” was formed with the aim to build a house, sell it and give the proceeds to causes close to their hearts.

“I really wanted something we could be a part of that was bigger than us,” Danielle says.

Now, 11 years on, at the age of 33 she says they hope to have the house, built by contributions from tradies and corporates, finished by early next year.

The house, which is at 17 Clancy McKenna Crescent, Bonner, has mainly been constructed by Lincoln, their brother Nelson, as well as their dad, cousins and close friends.

But, on top of that, Luton Properties has sponsored the house and a variety of local organisations have taken part in its construction.

Danielle says help is still welcomed though, with work needed to be done on its plumbing, electrical work, gyprocking, installation of the kitchen, tiling, painting and landscaping.

The proceeds of its sale, expected to be in the region of $1 million, will go to two charities. Half to the Starlight Foundation, which gave Danielle’s best friend a dream holiday to Sea World before she died.

“I like that Starlight provides ‘fun therapy’ to help distract people who are having an awful time in hospital,” Danielle says.

And the other half to an orphanage in Botswana.

“We’ve spent a lot of time talking to the ‘mummas’ at the orphanages and consulting with a broad range of stakeholders,” she says.

“The next step is to go back and speak collaboratively with them to come up with ideas to make a lasting effect.

“It’s important to be careful that we’re not just tokenistically helping, it’s a cross-cultural challenge.”

For Danielle, raize the roof is about giving the children an opportunity to create the life they want.

“I think about how incredibly blessed I am to be born in Canberra, into a family where education is valued,” she says.

“These children were born into a different environment and their life takes a different trajectory.”

But living in Australia, Danielle has been lucky enough to have the options to create her own path in life.

And while working on raize the roof, she also took a leap of faith, quit her job as a public servant, went back to university and studied a masters degree in public health.

From there she surprised herself and became CEO of the Asthma Foundation ACT, where she daily helps tackle asthma, which kills about 400 people a year in Australia.

Recently Danielle won “Executive of the Year” in the Canberra Women in Business Awards, for her work as the Asthma Foundations ACT and Victoria CEO.

During her three years as CEO Danielle has boosted funding for both foundations and expanded services.

With her full-time work as a CEO, her charity work and her consulting business, it’s a wonder where she gets time to do it all, but Danielle says she doesn’t have Netflix or Stan so that helps!

“I do still watch, but this is a lot more fulfilling than hours of TV,” she says.

“Someone once said to me, take on a real problem and all these little challenges that exist in our lives will disappear.

“Personally, I love learning and achieving things and being part of things that inspire me.”

Donations to raizetheroof.org.au

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