Turning Tragedy Into Hope

Jenny at Sanctuary

On December 14, 2012, Jenny Sullivan Hubbard’s ’95 life changed forever. That was the day she learned her then-8-year-old son, Freddie, survived the horrible mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Catherine Hubbard

Catherine Hubbard

And, the day she found out her 6-year-old daughter, Catherine, did not.

After news of the tragedy hit media outlets across the country, support from family, friends, and countless strangers began to pour in. Jenny’s classmates from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College rallied around her, creating a quilt and sending cards and other support. Students at the College released balloons in honor of Catherine that spring.

But it was the generosity of strangers that helped the Hubbard family find a way to honor their daughter as they began the healing process. Media outlets carried stories about the children who were lost that day. And as the world heard about Catherine’s love of animals, donations began to pour into a local animal shelter and others around the country, in lieu of flowers for the family.

The animal shelter had been saving money to create a sanctuary, and when their plans were shared, Jenny and her husband, Matt, could see Catherine’s love of animals reflected. They decided creating a sanctuary in her memory would be the best way to honor her life and what she loved. The Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation (cvhfoundation.org) was born, and construction of the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary is slated to begin in 2017. Jenny serves as president of the foundation, and Matt is vice president.

Catherine and Sammy“As with any kid as they grow up there were different phases, but animals were always Catherine’s passion,” Jenny said. “When the animal shelter mentioned that a sanctuary would be a place where animals would be safe and provided healing, we thought that’s exactly what she would have wanted.”

Faith has also helped the Hubbards through the healing process. “We cannot change what happened on December 14, 2012; the only thing we can do is accept how we deal with it,” she said. “For our family, it’s not about dwelling on what we don’t have, but focusing on the beauty that continues to surround us and understanding there’s still work for us to do here.”

Jenny said she sees Catherine every day in the work she does—especially when the foundation conducts programs for children.

“I love to see when the little ones are nose to nose with animals or completely enthralled with what’s going on because when I see that, I can picture Catherine,” she said. “When I see that, and I see the excitement in people’s eyes when they are discovering the sanctuary, I’m reminded of Catherine, her life, and her love. Being able to see all of these things come to fruition is amazing. It gives me so much hope for all that can come out of something that was complete

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