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Spreading CVH Animal Sanctuary Support With Butterflies And Cards

Published: September 30, 2017 at 12:00 am

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Like a mirror of the words Catherine Violet Hubbard would say to creatures, "Tell your friends I am kind," how one volunteer came to support the foundation created in Catherine's honor was a connection formed through friendships and kindness.

Many volunteers have offered their gifts and strengths to support the Catherine Violet Hubbard (CVH) Foundation and CVH Animal Sanctuary, CVH Foundation President and Catherine's mother Jenny Hubbard shared recently. Catherine Violet Hubbard was one of 26 people killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on 12/14.

Artist and elementary school art teacher Kim Hossler, who now teaches at both Hawley Elementary School and Sandy Hook School, started making cards from her art in 2007, when, she said, The Toy Tree owner Tracy Schmid said that she thought it would be interesting to sell cards that were locally made.

"All the early cards were just the things that my kids [and their friends] were interested in at the time," said Ms Hossler.
If her children- Madeline, now 16, and Jake, now 13 - were interested in a certain animal she created illustrations inspired by those animals.

"It's all animals and flowers. It's all nature. A lot of it is the flowers. That's just what I love to paint," said Ms Hossler, adding that a number of people in her family are gardeners.

The Hosslers live in Newtown, and Ms Hossler's husband, Michael, went on to help her with the business aspect of her cards. He is a fifth grade teacher in Wilton. Mr Hossler also helped create a website, homegrownarts.com, to sell cards with Ms Hossler's illustrations on them.

As of September 27, the website reads: "Homegrown Arts is a family business, founded by two teachers with backgrounds in art, illustration, graphic design, science, and business. Inspiration for our products is provided by our two children, and more than a decade of endeavoring to capture, with paint and paper, the creatures and characters, fairytales and fantasies that have ignited their developing imaginations."

There are birthday cards, holiday cards, and "One World" cards, which are described as being "dedicated to spreading messages of peace, love, and hope." There are cards with owls, "fanciful frogs," flowers, and more.

One day a mutual friend - Laura King, who has been volunteering and supporting the sanctuary since 2013 - shared a card with a rabbit on it with Ms Hubbard. Ms Hubbard remembers being "floored."

"It was stunning," said Ms Hubbard.

The card embodied the look and feel Ms Hubbard knew she wanted for the sanctuary. She remembers Ms King offering to introduce her to Ms Hossler. So, over coffee one day Ms Hossler shared her portfolio with Ms Hubbard.

"And I am knocked off my feet, because she had these beautiful butterflies," Ms Hubbard said, adding some of the cards also included simple words and phrases.

As Catherine's father and CVH Foundation Vice President Matthew Hubbard shared in a video posted on the foundation's website, cvhfoundation.org, when playing with butterflies, just one of many animals she loved, Catherine would tell them to tell all of their friends that she was kind.

"By doing that she knew the butterflies would come back the next day, and they did," Mr Hubbard said in the video.

What both women were unaware of when they first me, Ms Hubbard said, was that Ms Hubbard had found an illustrated butterfly on one of the memorials set up to honor the victims following 12/14. It was one of the items Ms Hubbard picked up and stored away to eventually frame. The butterfly, it turned out, had been one of Ms Hossler's creations.

Selling Cards To Support The Sanctuary

After the first meeting, Ms Hubbard said Ms Hossler offered to make butterflies for the sanctuary. A series of springtime-themed butterflies were created and Ms Hubbard began sending them out with handwritten messages, as thank you cards and more.

Eventually, Ms Hossler thought of selling them for the sanctuary, according to Ms Hubbard.

"There is no doubt in my mind that Catherine... would find them beautiful," said Ms Hubbard.

Ms Hossler said her first spring-themed butterfly cards had violets and clovers in the imagery, and they were created for spring 2014.

"It went on from there," said Ms Hossler. "We do them for different seasons."

Ms Hossler has also made special artwork for foundation events or milestones at the sanctuary, like a drawing of the structure that will eventually be the center of the sanctuary building.

There are also cards that are directly inspired by Catherine, like a butterfly designed with the words "Tell your friends I am kind" within the wings.

A set of seasonal cards and a set of cards with words within the butterflies are available on the sanctuary's website, cvhfoundation.org, to order. Ms Hubbard said new fall-inspired butterfly cards are expected to be made available on the sanctuary's website soon.

Both Ms Hossler and her husband have volunteered at sanctuary events, offering their skills as teachers. Their children also volunteer. Ms Hossler said like many of the volunteers who offer support for the CVH Animal Sanctuary, it is a family effort.

"I am very grateful that one of my cards found its way to [Ms Hubbard]," Ms Hossler said, "and that I have had the opportunity to help [spread] the story of the sanctuary. My family has been honored to participate as well. There are so many families and individuals in town who devote so much more time and energy and who are instrumental to helping realize the Hubbard family's vision for the sanctuary. We contribute our pieces here and there, but it is always in response to an idea that originates with [Ms Hubbard]."

Since the start of the efforts to actualize the CVH Foundation and CVH Animal Sanctuary, Ms Hubbard said many people have come into her family members' lives to share their talents.

"I truly believe it is a gift," said Ms Hubbard, adding later that it is an inspiration to her family.

For almost five years, the people who have entered their lives, Ms Hubbard said, have taught them and their son, Freddy, how to be better people.

"They give of themselves for no other reason than they are just good people," she said.

From the sanctuary's architects to each person who has offered to share their gifts - like Ms Hossler and Ms King - Ms Hubbard said, "We couldn't do this without having the people who have really stood beside us."

Through others, Ms Hubbard said she has learned that when people share their heart and their gifts, "it makes a huge difference."

"People are good," she added. "They are so good and gracious and willing to share so much."

For more information about the CVH Foundation, CVH Animal Sanctuary, and the cards visit cvhfoundation.org.

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