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Volunteers needed to help animal sanctuary built in memory of child lost at Sandy Hook

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NEWTOWN — Catherine Violet Hubbard is one of the 20 first graders whose lives were lost in the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary four and a half years ago.  Now, her family is looking for the public’s help with a project in place to honor Catherine’s life, the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary.

The sanctuary is 34 acres of serene meadows, streams, walking trails, and pastures.

“For us it really is a place where heaven and earth unite. I truly believe that right here she is able to reach down from heaven and we’re able to reach up to her and we can just feel her and she can feel us,” Jenny Hubbard, Catherine’s mother described about the property.

The sanctuary grew from Catherine’s parent’s grieving and has become a project to honor their daughter’s life and her love of all creatures.

“There was no animal she loved more than the other, she just loved them all,” Jenny said.

The open grassy fields are also complete with a recently refurbished barn that is reminiscent of one of Catherine’s favorite childhood stories.

“So Catherine and I had read Charlotte’s Web before she died.  She just loved loved loved the fact that the animals live in this community setting,” Jenny explained about the feel the barn now gives off following its rebuild.

The barn was dilapidated and overgrown, but with help from the organization Rescue Rebuild, who specializes in refurbishing animal shelter, it now stands bright and cheerful, painted red with white trim.  The barn, Jenny hopes, will soon become home to farm animals with nowhere else to call home.

“A lot of the farmers in Connecticut, unfortunately they’re having to downsize and just can’t financially support them.  In some cases the animals stop producing so the option is to euthanize or find a place for them,” Jenny said.

Along with the barn, there is a need for fencing on the property.  A project the Hubbards are set to kick off May 10th and work through the 18th.  They are asking for volunteers to help with the labor intense work.

“Because if we can put paddock fencing in the meadow then we can start bringing animals up to the sanctuary.  The paddocks fencing is going to take a lot of work because it’s a lot of digging and post holes,” Jenny explained.  She went on to say, “In addition to the paddock fencing we still have to do work on the invasive plants, because what’s happening is the invasive plants are choking out the native plants.”

The land the sanctuary sits on is the former property of the Fairfield Hills State Hospital.  The Hubbards plans over the next year also include building a two-winged building to house both an animal clinic and an education center.

“It will have a library which we’re going to bring all of Catherine’s books over to the sanctuary.  It will be a landing spot for a lot of the local youth that they can come and do homework,” Jenny said.

It will also include a structure in the center, joining the two buildings, adorned with red terracotta tiles, just like little Catherine’s red hair.  Jenny, explained, the design was specific to represent Catherine standing watch over the property and all the people and animals who come there.

“I think that in so many ways if we can create a place where everybody, everything knows that people are kind and that they are safe then we’re honoring Catherine, we’re doing what we know in our hearts she would have done had she continued to grace the earth,” Jenny said.

The sanctuary and its walking trails are all currently open to the public, but is still a work in progress.  The Hubbards are inviting volunteers to sign up to help put up fencing at their website, cvhfoundation.org.  If you can’t volunteer there is an opportunity to donate food for lunch or dinner for the volunteers and the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation has an Amazon wish list for tools and supplies to get the job done.

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