The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary is a place where all beings know they are safe, and that humans are kind. Created to honor Catherine, who was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, this sanctuary is the space that just keeps giving and provides so much goodness to the community. Locally in Greenwich, the sanctuary’s Senior Paw Project partners with Greenwich Communities to help seniors take care of their pets which can be expensive, especially for people on a fixed income.
As a young child, Catherine knew she wanted to work with animals. During play, she would be the zookeeper or the veterinarian, always gravitating to animal care roles. After Catherine’s death, the animal sanctuary was created almost by a fluke. In Catherine’s obituary it read donations can be made to the Animal Center of Newtown. Inadvertently Jennifer Hubbard, Catherine’s mother and president of the sanctuary, had dropped the word control when submitting it.
In a short period of time, four women who rescued cats were given $120,000 in donations in Catherine’s name. When they approached Hubbard, she knew she had to do something. It was as if Catherine was guiding them, and The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary was born.
The sanctuary’s mission statement is: The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary enriches the lives of all beings by promoting compassion and acceptance. By honoring the bond between animals, humans and the environment, we’re creating a kinder and gentler world for all. The sanctuary offers something for everyone, from a butterfly garden for pollinators, to school and corporate outings, Catherine’s Butterfly Party, and the Senior Paw Project. Their main initiative for 2023 is constructing a sustainable building, for which they are currently fundraising.
“Catherine was six, she loved animals,” said Hubbard. “It was a perfect way to honor her.”
The sanctuary has partnered with Greenwich Communities-–recognized in 2021 as an Outstanding Community Partner—providing ongoing medical and pet food support to the pets of their older adult residents.
For many seniors, pets are more than pets, representing a part of their life with a deceased spouse or their children. The stress of providing care is significant as prescription costs and annual wellness examinations average $250. Even a minor financial challenge can leave their pet’s care compromised or ultimately surrendered to a shelter. The sanctuary works to eliminate that stress and provides veterinary wellness care, covering their pet’s medicine and food costs.
The Senior Paw Project works directly with affordable housing communities’ Residential Service Coordinators (RSC). According to Hubbard, “Often the process starts with a lunch and learn to share the resources available to all residents in the community. Older adults are asked to submit an application to their RSC who in turn coordinates with our Senior Paw Project Program to schedule services.”
Another way the sanctuary works with the public is through educational services. “We just welcomed Greenwich Country Day School students for a lesson on invasive plants and their removal,” says Hubbard.
The sanctuary has developed a sixth grade curriculum that is a full academic year study. Students visit in the fall to understand the diverse components that create a meadow habitat. Then they choose and research one element during the winter. Explains Hubbard, “They are asked to consider what it needs to thrive and what is its threat. They become experts on that one thing and come back in the spring and validate their research.” Students write a paper and present their findings to the grade level.
The objective is both to conduct scientific research and also understand the interconnectedness of living things. One year, the local middle school held a state of the meadow fair instead of a science fair.
Moving forward, the sanctuary focus for 2023 is the construction of the educational and veterinary intake facility.
Since 2014, when they were given 34 acres by the state of CT, they have focused on securing permits and approvals, restoring and establishing native habitat, constructing an expansive retaining wall and associated drainage, and installing the permanent access drive. The wall was gifted by Gino Vona, a talented stonemason who created a beautiful sunburst representing the connection between heaven and earth. The physical construction of the buildings is the final piece.
“The timing could not be more perfect,” says Hubbard. “In tandem with preparing for the build, we launched programming–offered under tents, in borrowed space, in schools–and have worked to find and keep companion animals in homes. Future growth of the sanctuary is dependent on a permanent space: allowing us to welcome school trips and expand educational offerings, provide shelter to farm animals, and serve as a model for environmental responsibility.”
There are many naming opportunities in the building to donate to and play a part in creating this safe haven for all, inspired by Catherine, whose spirit absolutely lives on in the sanctuary. Reach out at www.cvhfoundation.org for more information.