"Her plan was simple; she wanted any creature in her care to know they would be safe and protected," Hubbard recalled about her daughter.
Six-year-old freckle-faced girl with bright red locks was often found in the yard of her Newtown, Connecticut home accompanied by animal companions. Just as a five-year-old, Catherine had decided she wanted to be an animal sanctuary caretaker, reports the Washington Post.
But on December 14, 2012, the six-year-old was one of 20 children and six adults killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary. "I made a conscious choice since the tragedy to not focus on and continue to relive what happened in Sandy Hook... And it is a day that I will forever remember as losing Catherine, but it’s also a moment to look forward with hope that she didn’t die for nothing," shared her mother Juddy Hubbard.
Catherine's love for animals was deep. Once she crafted baby pink colored business cards with the business name "Catherine’s Animal Shelter" and her title "Care Taker." She and her brother ordered 250 of them. Catherine’s kindergarten teacher sent an email to Hubbard saying that the "business cards were just precious."
Knowing that "animals were just a part of her," the heartbroken mother resolved to make her daughter's dream come true. The plans for the sanctuary began after a typo in Catherine’s obituary when her mom asked people to make donations to "Animal Center" instead of "Animal Control Center." And exactly a decade later, Hubbard inaugurated Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, a nonprofit meant to promote healing through "the human-animal connection" by providing veterinary care, educating visitors, and serving as a migration space for hummingbirds, bees, and other pollinators. The business cards are now at the sanctuary. "We love them because, in so many ways, it’s Catherine's desire to be a caretaker, lived out day in and day out, that we’re doing."
10 years after her daughter was killed in the Sandy Hook tragedy, Jenny Hubbard is breaking ground on the next phase of an animal sanctuary created in her honor.— Julia LeBlanc (@JuliaLeBlancTV) December 14, 2022
Today is all about fulfilling Catherine's dream. How would she feel about this moment? More on @FOX61News at 5&6. pic.twitter.com/gY3NoxnlTx
Hubbard shared her thoughts in an article with CNN. She recalled, "Her plan was simple; she wanted any creature in her care to know they would be safe and protected." She would whisper to every creature she met, "Tell all your friends that I am kind" hoping that the animals would return with their friends.
Hubbard's favorite memory of Catherine is the time when a butterfly landed on her daughter as she sat still in the grass. Unlike her "relentless" attempts at catching everything from insects to birds to squirrels, Catherine was peaceful and composed with the butterfly. Hubbard remembers hearing Catherine’s laughter as she swayed her butterfly net across the garden years ago. At the sanctuary, one of the events taking place on June 8, Catherine's birthday, is the annual “Butterfly Party.” The day would be to reclaim the grief and heartache into one of joyful remembrance and hope.
About the devastating loss that families have suffered, Hubbard wrote, "All families have chosen the path they feel will best reconcile their profound and sacred loss. I honor and respect the paths each family has chosen."
"I know Catherine will be looking down on us, and she’ll be just so completely and absolutely thrilled. Because we’ve chosen to see the best in humanity. And [the future] may not be how we wanted it to look or what we think it’s supposed to be, but I can assure you that something good does come out of every tragedy," shared Hubbard.
The sanctuary is situated within 34 acres of woodlands awarded by the state of Connecticut in 2014. Hubbard said more than 10,000 people attended Catherine's celebration last year. Since its inception, the foundation has also found homes for over 1,157 pets, partnered with 29 local municipalities in Connecticut, and served over 707,000 meals to animals in need. She hopes to be expanding the impact by opening the doors to the facility for both two-legged and four-legged friends.
Cover Image Source: Instagram | cvhanimalsanctuary