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Members of the Newtown Board of Realtors (BOR) gathered for a special luncheon, hosted at Sal e Pepe, on June 7, to learn about how the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation (CVHF) plans to build its one-of-a-kind animal sanctuary in town.
Prior to the presentation, BOR President Connie Widmann announced that the BOR had received a $2,000 grant from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to go towards the Museum in the Streets initiative, which creates walking tours for communities.
Newtown Board of Realtors Director Robert Morey introduced the luncheon’s sponsor, Sam LaRosa of Teacher’s Insurance Annuity Association (TIAA) Bank. Mr LaRosa, a nearly 20-year resident of Newtown, informed the realtors about the services his company offers.
Connecticut Realtors’ Political Field Representative and Organizer Becca Braunstein, also spoke at the beginning of the luncheon to let members know about a political debate at the Edmond Town Hall and their new text messaging system for realtors called Call To Action.
Plans For A Sanctuary
Jenny Hubbard, president of the CVHF and mother of Catherine Hubbard, who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School on 12/14, spent the afternoon before what would have been her daughter’s 12th birthday sharing the good news to realtors about the animal sanctuary being built in town to honor her daughter’s compassion for all creatures.
She explained how the journey began after her and her husband, Matt, requested memorial donations for their daughter be sent to The Animal Center in Newtown. They originally thought the contributions would be going to Newtown’s Animal Control Center, where Catherine loved to go, but to their surprise, found they had directed donations to a local nonprofit that specialized in cat fostering.
Representatives of The Animal Center approached them after receiving a significant amount of money in Catherine’s name and explained their desire to build an animal sanctuary in honor of Catherine.
“They described it as a place where children could come and be face-to-face with animals and see the innate beauty in the animal and the environment,” Ms Hubbard said. Since then, the CVHF has taken the reins on the project and begun making the dream into a reality.
Ms Hubbard told the realtors how the State of Connecticut gifted the foundation 34 acres in Newtown, located behind Reed Intermediate School. She encouraged everyone to visit the site and enjoy the many hiking trails around the meadows.
Thanks to the work of many volunteers — especially from corporate work days — they have already put up paddocks for farm animals to one day utilize, begun creating a 300 foot community garden, and are restoring a 1920s bank barn on the property that will be able to house animals when the sanctuary is operating.
“One of the values that we live by is something that Catherine taught us, and that is to accept people for who they are and what they stand for,” Ms Hubbard said. “So our goal is to restore the property to its original grandeur.”
The CVHF plans have a building for community education, which will include Catherine’s Library and a full culinary kitchen where people can come for lunch. There will also be a vet intake facility for animals. Between the two buildings will be the metal pavilion sculpture that was put on the sanctuary grounds in 2014.
“It’s the only structure that has red terra cotta tiles as its roof,” Ms Hubbard said pointing at the site rendering she brought. “The thought was that the pavilion symbolizes Catherine, with her red hair… the colonnades that connect the education building and the animal care building are her arms welcoming people and animals alike.”
PR Architects has offered to do the building work pro bono, she said, but they still will need $10 million to bring the vision to completion.
In the meantime, the CVHF will continue its free Sunday at the Sanctuary programs. The goal of it, she says, is for “families to come together on a Sunday afternoon and learn how to care for the environment and the creatures that live in it.”
Ms Hubbard added, “The fact that the sanctuary can be shared with people and the hope that someday it can add a value to Newtown is incredibly humbling.”