The Animal Center in Newtown is building The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary. The sanctuary will bear the name of a 6-year old who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month. The Animal Center is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to animal rescue and welfare.
Vice President Harmony Verna says they met with the Hubbard family, who wanted donations in Catherine's name to be sent there because she was a huge animal lover. The idea of a sanctuary resonated with Jenny and Matt Hubbard, who wanted to know what they could do to help build this for Catherine.
Jenny Hubbard says this is the perfect way to remember Catherine now, and in 50 or 75 years because animals are what defined her 6 years on earth. Hubbard says they felt a need to do something that would be special to Catherine and remember her for what she loved, and that was animals.
This is a road the Hubbards never thought they would have to go down.
"When she grew up she was going to run Catherine's Animal Shelter. She and her brother made business cards last winter and her title was caretaker."
When the Center told them how they envisioned the Sanctuary, Hubbard says it was the exact way they wanted to remember their daughter and build her legacy.
"Catherine would chase down strangers to pet their dogs, squeal with delight as butterflies landed on her arm and sit for hours watching baby birds in a nest. We would overhear Catherine whispering to insects and animals to 'tell all your friends that I am kind'. Whenever a kitten purrs from a loving touch, whenever a dog nuzzles into a child’s hand, whenever a butterfly dances between flowers, Catherine’s smile will be there."
Verna says the Sanctuary will be a place where all creatures, great and small, can know the touch of a kind hand and be safe from harm. The Sanctuary will be a place for children and adults to connect with animals and the natural world. They want children to be involved in the design process so the Sanctuary will be seen from a 6-year old's eyes.
"Animals have an amazing capacity to love and heal the human spirit and we hope Catherine will think it's the most beautiful place on earth."
Through The Animal Center, more than $200,000 in donations have come in. There are other funds in Catherine's name that her family will be sending to the Center as well.
The first step of turning Catherine's dream into a reality is to have a parcel of land, ideally donated. The estimate is that within five years the first bus loads of children will be welcomed to the Sanctuary.