Six-year-old Catherine Violet Hubbard was a kind-hearted little girl who had an overwhelming passion for animals. She had always said that when she grew up, she would take care of animals and have her own shelter.
Sadly, Catherine’s life was taken way too soon when she was one of the 20 children, along with six adults, who were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14, 2012.
Catherine’s parents, Jenny and Matt, were determined to keep Catherine’s dreams alive and turn them into a reality. That’s when they decided to create the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary in Newtown, CT, a place for rescue animals to feel safe and loved, just like Catherine would have wanted.
Jenny and Matt spent a lot of time planning out their vision of the sanctuary. The 34-acre preserve now has meadows, pastures, walking trails, streams, and a renovated barn.
Aside from housing rescued farm animals, her parents would also like to use the sanctuary as a space for an animal-companion program for senior citizens, and a home base for wildlife rescue-and-release organizations in the community.
Above all, the Hubbard’s want the sanctuary to honor the bond between caregivers and animals — whether they are pets, farm animals, or wildlife. They also felt it was important for the sanctuary to have an educational component. They have partnered with Newtown public schools and offer an in-school science-based curriculum to teach kids about animals and their habitats.
The sanctuary is almost at its final planning stages and they hope to have everything completed in the next year or two.
“The one thing that we are truly fortunate for, and not a day goes by that we don’t acknowledge, is that we’ve been afforded an incredible opportunity in honoring Catherine’s memory and her legacy,” Jenny Hubbard told PEOPLE. “She was a 6-year-old little girl, and the fact that we can create something as beautiful as the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, for us [that] has been how we’ve honored her.”
Jenny would do anything to have her daughter back, but sadly that isn’t the reality. What helps her feel better is know that they can do amazing things in her name and share her kindness and her love with so many people.
“If someone can find something that sparks something in their heart — if an interaction with an animal or being a part of the sanctuary gives them a purpose other than what they may feel, whether they’re feeling desolate or isolated — then the sanctuary has done good,” Hubbard told CBS. “Who knows? It could change the trajectory of their life and maybe, in our world, maybe prevent another Sandy Hook that we’ll never know, and that’s OK with us.”
Click here for more updates on the sanctuary on their Facebook page.