Mother honors memory of daughter lost in Sandy Hook tragedy with animal sanctuary
A mother who lost her daughter in the Sandy Hook tragedy has dedicated the last decade to honor her memory by helping animals.
Jennifer Hubbard, whose daughter Catherine Violet died on Dec. 14, 2012, has worked steadily to realize her child's dream of creating an animal sanctuary.
"I just want people to know that Catherine's life is making a difference now," Hubbard says. "She had made business cards for 'Catherine's Animal Shelter.’”
For Hubbard, that memory represents her little girl's determination.
EXPANDED COVERAGE: Sandy Hook: 10 Years Later
"I found them after she died, and I realized that it was one of those moments of a path forward," Hubbard says.
That path became a road running through the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary in Newtown. Hubbard points out that the property has changed significantly.
Initially, Hubbard prioritized programs over buildings. The sanctuary's Senior Paw Project provides needy pet owners with veterinarian care and food.
However, Catherine Violet's vision is unfolding as to how the sanctuary will take shape.
"One of the requests that we had was no stone or granite memorial to Catherine," Hubbard says.
A model of the sanctuary shows planned educational facilities.
"It has red terra cotta tile. It's for Catherines hair," Hubbard says while pointing to the model.
"I often wonder, what would she be like as a 16-year-old, because she was fiercely determined," she says.
"It has been a journey. There have been highs and there have been lows and I think that when you go through something as horrible as losing a child, especially one that's lost in such a public manner, it forced me to look at who I was," Hubbard says.
That struggle fills the pages of Hubbard's memoir.
"If Catherine had not died, I don't know if I would have really seen the goodness in people in the way that I do now," she adds.
As Dec. 14 2022 approaches, Hubbard continues to see the positive that came from the tragedy.
"I'm fortunate enough to have people around me that acknowledge that, yeah, this is hard. Like, you're coming home to an empty house, but also look at what you have in front of you," Hubbard says.
"I'm fine. I am fine. You know, at the end of the day, we're all going to be fine," she adds.
Each year, the sanctuary welcomes thousands of people for Catherine's Butterfly Party, a celebration of the girl who would have turned 16 on June 8.