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Mother of Sandy Hook victim building $10 million sanctuary in Newtown named after her daughter

Jennifer Hubbard at the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, dedicated to the memory of her daughter, six-year old Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim, Catherine in Newtown, Connecticut December 12, 2022.
Joe Amon
Connecticut Public
Jenny Hubbard stands for a portrait at the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 12, 2022. The sanctuary is dedicated to the memory of her 6-year-old daughter, Catherine, a Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim.

The mother of a 6-year-old girl killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 is building a $10 million education center and veterinary intake facility at a sanctuary in Newtown named after her daughter, Catherine Violet Hubbard.

“We’re going to be starting our construction efforts,” said Jenny Hubbard, Catherine’s mother and the nonprofit’s executive director. “If the grace and the love that she had for animals could be something that could be encountered by other people, other kids, there was no other option than building a sanctuary.”

The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary spans 34 acres of nature preserve, with a native meadow habitat for the monarch butterfly and raised garden beds that yield 3,000 pounds of produce annually for food-insecure families.

“We’ll be the first in Connecticut and in the New York metro area that is a Living Building site,” Hubbard said.

A Living Building is certified for sustainability by the International Living Future Institute. The Institute defines Living Buildings as regenerative buildings that connect occupants to light, air, food, nature and community; are self-sufficient and remain within the resource limits of their site; and create a positive impact on the human and natural systems that interact with them.

“Having those facilities will allow us to grow our educational outreach tenfold,” Hubbard said.

The center is part of the Newtown schools’ K-6 curriculum. Also in the works are on-site programs for children, a learning barn and a library.

“For me, personally, to be able to start a project that not only honors Catherine’s legacy and her love, but also has made as significant an impact on the communities that we serve — and is becoming known as a model for how we teach compassion, how we build empathy — makes me more certain that my path to healing was in focusing forward and honoring Catherine’s love,” Hubbard said.

Sujata Srinivasan is Connecticut Public Radio’s senior health reporter. Prior to that, she was a senior producer for Where We Live, a newsroom editor, and from 2010-2014, a business reporter for the station.

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