April Newsletter

Apr 11, 2017 | Uncategorized

Dear Friends of The Sunny Center,


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. 



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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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.
Peace and Love,

Sunny and Pete

A new goal for the new year

The end of the old year and the beginning of the new are both busy times, filled with the sharing of gifts with family and friends. And that's why I want to send a personal thank you to all of those who took the time to include us in the sharing of gifts during this...

Remembering Peter

My dear Peter is gone.
We sang him home on the last day of the year, gathered around his bedside as we had done for so many days before.

‘Send them green.’ A special message from a Sunny Center supporter!

“I had the wonderful opportunity to be a guest at the Sunny Center this past July. My first trip to Ireland, it always is a magical moment to visit friends who live overseas…”

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.

Even in summer, the work doesn’t stop

We’re in midsummer now, with its long days that stretch until 11 in the evening here in Ireland. It’s a busy time for everyone and everything.

The power of art to heal and renew

Did you know that Peter was a woodworker and an artist? He created so many things. But more importantly, he taught those skills to other Exonerees when they visited the Center.

Looking for green shoots

Photo by Samantha Bookman. Peter and I chose to situate the Sunny Healing Center here in this beautiful location in the west of Ireland. A newcomer may at first see only a barren, rocky, windswept landscape. But, put your hand on the earth here, and you can feel the...

A message from Sunny about Peter

The time has come to say farewell to our dear Peter, who is in the process of transitioning from this body and this plane.

Finding Peace, Joy and Hope

The events in Ukraine over the past several days have been ever-present in all of our lives through the daily news and constant social media. These times can be especially difficult for Exonerees because of the traumas they are working to overcome.

Love Is Always the Answer

Winter is always a little bit quieter than the rest of the year. After a long day spent maintaining the Sunny Healing Center and getting it ready for visitors, it’s time for us to cuddle up with the kittens and, of course, Barney, on chilly winter evenings with a warm fire in the hearth.

A Happy, Healthy and Healing New Year to All

Love has no barriers and no limits. And neither does our gratitude for your continuing support and friendship. Know that you are never alone, because you are part of our family.