Laying the Foundation of Catherine’s Dream

By Tempe Staples

Out of these ashes
Beauty will rise
And we will dance amount the ruins
We will see it with our own eyes
~Steven Curtis Chapman 

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” As children, we fancied ourselves doctors, firefighters, ballet dancers, or maybe even all three. Through a child’s eye, the world is a place of limitless possibilities.

Catherine Violet Hubbard was a child who knew the world to be a beautiful place where creatures of all shapes and sizes deserved love and kindness. A self-proclaimed “Animal Caretaker,” Catherine was already making herself business cards and encouraging her young peers to donate to animal shelters. She was a driven little redhead determined to make her dreams comes true.

SmithSolve has been a humble supporter of the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation (CVHF), n organization created to honor the memory of a first grader who lost her life in the Sandy Hook tragedy. While she is no longer with us today, Catherine’s delightful spirit lives on in human acts of kindness.

With our families in tow, we crossed the Tappan Zee and drove the Saw Mill parkway to Newton, Connecticut. After a long week of chilly rain and gray skies, the sunshine welcomed us down a gravel road. We arrived at an endlessly green field speckled with wildflowers, trees bordering the property. In the distance, we could see a pickup truck with muddy tires coming to retrieve us. Matt Hubbard, Catherine’s father, greeted us with a “Hello, hop in!” and we clamored into the back of his truck – we were off for a day of brush clearing, barn painting, and fence making. Alongside other volunteers, as well as some of our own families, our efforts would begin turning CVHF’s vision into reality.

The world is full of challenges. Some of these challenges define heartbreak, and the idea of moving forward seems frankly impossible. Empathy unites people and motivates them to do the unthinkable. What brought total strangers together to help turn 34 acres of land into an animal and peace sanctuary? The power of empathic courage.

It was an honor to help Matt and Jenny lay the foundation of Catherine’s dream. Having met them, it is easy to understand how Catherine was born a natural caretaker. No parent should ever have to endure what Jenny and Matt have had to bear and yet they do it with such grace, strength and gratitude.  Working toward their vision was truly humbling, and we look forward to the next visit and to continue to witness the beauty of Catherine’s story through her sanctuary.

In all that we do, in all the lives we touch, we will remain dedicated to “Be Kind Like Catherine

Catherine’s initials carved into the concrete floor of the soon-to-be Rescue Barn, the future home of rescued animals. The foundation plans on sheltering creatures big and small, from goats, to alpacas, to teacup pigs…just to name a few.

SmithSolve presented the Hubbards with a butterfly decoration. Jenny (right) loved it, and said “it should go in the Butterfly Garden”, hugging Tina (left) for the gift.

11-year-old Ally, Chris and Tina’s daughter, was glad to have witnessed the moment:

“My mom let me take off school for the day to go to help at the Catherine Violet Hubbard Sanctuary, and spending the day doing something to help another reminded me of Maso Cooley’s words… ‘Compassion brings us to a stop, and for a moment we rise above ourselves. I have met Catherine’s mom, Jenny before but to meet her on the land that will make her daughter’s dream come true, and on Mother’s Day weekend, made me realize what a great mom she is and how much she must miss her daughter. Catherine loved butterflies and it struck me how many butterflies I saw while on the land … I think she is there and watching it all happen.”

Some young Solvers applying their environmental lesson to clearing invasive plants in forest area.

Sara, a SmithSolve team member, shared a touching sentiment:

“Audrey Hepburn said, ‘As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands—one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.’ As working professionals, we’re often keen to focus on honing the skills of the hand that helps ourselves—improving our public speaking abilities, gaining confidence in the workplace, or advancing our careers, for example. It’s easy, at times, to forget that our other hand needs practice as well in order to achieve balance. My day at Catherine Violet Hubbard’s soon-to-be animal sanctuary was a refreshing reminder of the importance of service to others. As I grow older, as Catherine couldn’t, I learn to be mindful of this, to mirror every movement of my one hand with an action from the other.”

To learn more about the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation’s mission, please visit https://cvhfoundation.org/