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Just as the adage goes that it takes a village to raise a child, the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation (CVHF) is proving it takes a compassionate community to make a young girl’s dream become a reality.
The national shelter renovation group Rescue Rebuild, which stems from the nonprofit organization GreaterGood.org based out of Seattle, returned to the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary to volunteer its services on the property from May 10 to 18. The group previously visited the 34-acre property last year to focus on cleaning up and renovating the red barn on site.
During this visit, the team members of Rescue Rebuild were joined by many local individuals, as well as volunteers from Mint Advertising, SmithSolves LLC, Alexion Pharmaceuticals’ security team, and a group of students from Bethel High School.
The volunteers worked diligently in shifts each day, dedicating their time to installing paddock fences around the back meadow of the sanctuary.
The fencing will be a vital part of the property as it is being designed to make boundaries for farm animals coming to the shelter in the future. The area will also be a place of respite for horseback riders using the bridle trails to take a break and turn their horses into the paddock.
With the outpouring of support from nearly 300 people over the course of eight days, the volunteers were also able to focus on the huge task of clearing invasive plants from the land.
Jenny Hubbard, CVHF president and mother of Catherine, one of 20 children killed along with six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School on 12/14, said the University of Connecticut (UConn) had previously created a five-year invasive management plan to tackle the overwhelming challenge.
“When UConn first came out and shared with us that the whole sanctuary is invasive… it was somewhat daunting even where to start,” Ms Hubbard said.
As a result, volunteers have been able to start at one corner of the property and make their way along, pulling out invasive plants.
“Now we can walk along the meadow path and you can actually see into the woods and see the birds flying around,” Ms Hubbard said. “To go from not even being able to see the barn and crouching under trees to get there, to what it is now is incredible affirmation of so many people coming together and working to see the sanctuary realized.”
After the invasive plants have been completely removed from the property, the plan is to replace them with native plants and meadow grasses.
Ms Hubbard said what could have potentially taken them years to accomplish has been accelerated to a small fraction of time thanks to the hard work of the Rescue Rebuild volunteers.
“The amount of support from the people that have come out is just humbling,” said Ms Hubbard.
Catherine’s father and vice president of the CVHF, Matt Hubbard, said that on May 18 alone they had nearly 80 people sign up to volunteer their time at the sanctuary.
Those that were unable to physically volunteer with Rescue Rebuild during this visit were encouraged to bring in animal-friendly, vegetarian meal options to feed the group as part of the “Meal Train.”
Meal Train individuals and businesses that donated their time, money, and culinary skills to help nourish the volunteers throughout the week included Elke Pieramico, Beth Groonell, Lucy Prybylski, Jody Boles, Diane Salvo, The Newtown Bee, Sterling Silber Enterprises, John Arsenault, Karen Adamshack, and Donna Rahtelli.
Since Rescue Rebuild raises 100 percent of the funds for their projects, including budgeting for meals, having volunteers donate lunch and dinner to the group allows more money to go toward helping the sanctuary.
“Things like the Meal Train are a huge benefit to us and makes Rescue Rebuild feel so loved,” Ms Hubbard said. “Typically their volunteers have peanut butter and jelly, things at low cost.”
Rescue Rebuild founder Bryna Donnelly and Program Coordinator Zach Baker have been instrumental in organizing and accomplishing this phase of the sanctuary work this month.
Ms Hubbard expressed her utmost gratitude, saying, “The heart and love that they put into Rescue Rebuild is inspiring to me, to see what they are able to do.”
After Rescue Rebuild leaves to go work on their next shelter renovation project in St Louis, the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation is going to host a meet-and-greet. It will be an opportunity for people who are interested in volunteering with the foundation and animal sanctuary to get to know who they are and learn how to help.
For future projects, Ms Hubbard explained, they are looking for three types of volunteers.
“We need people that can help onsite at the property, we are going to need people that may have links to different professional services, like graphic designers or web developers,” Ms Hubbard said, “We are also going to need a group of people that will be able to table events for us and spread the word.”
To learn more about the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation visit its annual Butterfly Party on June 3 at Fairfield hills from noon to 4 pm, check out cvhfoundation.org, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.