April Newsletter

Apr 11, 2017 | Uncategorized

Dear Friends of The Sunny Center,

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Black swan seen in the Claddagh.

Greetings to our friends near and far.  The sun and spring have all arrived here in Connemara – as has a special black swan!
 
We want to thank you, as always, for your continued support. We are grateful for your help, as your kindness keeps us going and is the reason we can do what we do every day.  Every gift helps. And every gift is welcome. Since Easter/Passover is a time of new beginnings, your gift will help give Exonerees a new beginning. 


OUR GUESTS AND VISITORS

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A group of students came with their teacher to visit the Sunny Center.  

We hosted a group of 14 students who came to the Sunny Center along with their East Stroudsburg University professor, her mom, her child and another professor. We all visited the Human Rights Center at the National University of Galway Ireland where the group learned more about how NUIG teaches eager minds about the very real issues of social justice.

Sunny and Peter dance with two new exonerees.

We met so many new exonerees at the annual Innocence Network conference, many of whom expressed an interest in coming to visit us in Ireland. We now have guests lined up to stay with us through August and some of them are coming with their partners. Hosting couples is something interesting and something new, but also something that makes sense since wrongful convictions impact, not only the Exoneree, but also their loved ones, as well.  We look forward to opening our home to these remarkable couples who are going through the healing process together. 


OUR VOLUNTEERS 
We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of spirit of those who wish to come volunteer with us. Our first volunteer of 2017 arrives  this month. Our volunteers will be helping with the garden, growing the food, interacting with our guests and, before the summer is over, they will be milking the goats. 

OUR ACTIVISM 
The toll of loss to Life and Liberty at this year’s Innocence Network Conference.

We traveled to San Diego, California for the annual Innocence Network Conference which was hosted this year by our dear friend Justin Brooks and his team at the California Innocence Project.
 
The conference drew 750 people – the most of any conference as it gets bigger and bigger every year. It was very successful and a satisfying mix of sessions for professionals, and others geared just for Exonerees, including a number on after care. What are the needs of people once they get them out? There was also a session for Exonerees and their families, which shows the growing awareness of the multi-layered impact of a wrongful conviction. Sunny’s daughter was there and joined Sunny for the family session. “It was amazing,” says Sunny. “She even got up and said a few words with me. She said, ‘This affected my life and we lost our parents and then we lost our grandparents. I think a lot more has to be done for the families.’ The whole room was crying. “ The hope is that even more children of Exonerees will come to next year’s conference, including one woman whose daughter became a lawyer to get her out. Interest is growing in this area; research is now underway examining what happens to the children of people who are wrongly convicted. 
 
There was also a session for Exonerees and their partners to discuss how it impacts the ability to form relationships.  When Peter and Sunny joined the group, they were applauded. “We want to be like you guys,” they said.

Sunny and other women Exonerees at the healing retreat.

There was also a two-day retreat for women Exonerees in California that Sunny participated in which included a mask-making project. The idea is to distinguish between the mask everyone wears in public, especially those we wore in prison, and our private faces. Photos were taken of the masks and it will be used as part of a public awareness exhibit.
 
While we were there, we visited a prospective guest who was wrongly convicted and has been on death row for over 34 years. He is now awaiting due process on his case in county jail. He was so glad we were there and that he got to meet us in person. He talked about how wonderful it will be to come visit us at the Sunny Center when he gets out. 


OUR FURRY FRIENDS
Millie and Molly enjoying a cuddle in Sunny’s chair.

All our Furry Friends – the goats, dogs, cats and chickens – are all enjoying the longer days and shorter nights. 


STAY CONNECTED 
We, too, enjoy the stretching of days – and a cuddle.  Please stay in touch. And be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook

Easter and Passover greetings to all! We hope all your hopes for this Spring season are fulfilled.
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Peace and Love,

Sunny and Pete

It Takes A Community to Help Exonerees Heal

What an amazing summer this has been. We’ve been at home, raising a litter of kittens in our polytunnel and collecting eggs from our hens. And at the same time we have been able to reach out into the world and continue helping Exonerees.

Have you seen Sunny on YouTube?

Yoga and meditation are so central to our life and work at The Sunny Center. We meditate each morning to help us approach the day with a calm, clear mind (and some extra energy)!

Exonerees are succeeding, thanks to you!

Helping people exonerated of crimes they did not commit, setting them back on the path to a fulfilling life, is a monumental task that we depend on the dedication of volunteers, both near and far, to achieve.

For Exonerees, life’s little legal challenges can be huge

Exonerees face many challenges as they rebuild their lives after a wrongful conviction. One of the things that takes a backseat, as they struggle to access essentials like a place to live, medical care, and work, is thinking about how they will be cared for if they get sick.

Sometimes, it takes a (small) army

Terry Wanzer fought for more than 20 years to have his record cleared, even though he was exonerated in 1996. Our friend and volunteer Carrie is working to stop injustices like this.

How to Avoid Toxicity

At a time when it seems so many people in the world are expressing so much anger and hatred, how do you maintain your balance? Watch my latest video and share with us on social media!

About Our Wish List Program

One of our most impactful programs that arose during, and because of, the Covid-19 pandemic is the Wish List program. Through this, people who want to help an Exoneree directly can do so.

Wishing You a Summer of Healing, Hope and Joy

While the start of summer certainly feels much calmer and more certain than it did last year, plenty of activity is going on at The Sunny Center!

More Than 2,700 Exonerees Need Your Help

The need for resources and change within the system is immense. But together, we can start making a difference right away!

You Can Make A Difference for Exonerees Right Now

We are happy and hopeful that we can soon return to working in person with fellow Exonerees. But you can help us right now, even from far away.

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