April 2020 Newsletter

Apr 14, 2020 | News, Uncategorized

Dear Friends of The Sunny Center,

Beauty – and hope – abounds.
Spring has arrived at the Sunny Center both indoors and outdoors. To be greeted by the sunny yellow daffodils on our windowsill and the rising sun on the horizon inspires both hope and joy! And it goes without saying that these are two things we all very much need in these trying times. We are taking these days of social distancing as a special and important opportunity to enjoy nature’s bounty as a balm to the soul.  

And when we all need to practice staying in place for everyone’s health and safety, we are very mindful of the many exonerees who may feel especially vulnerable. We are also trying to take special measures to keep them connected with the exoneree community, yet safe from the virus. Of course, our work relies on the goodwill of people like you. So please consider helping someone like our exoneree resident Paul Hildwin, who was released to the Sunny Center community this past month after wrongfully serving 35 years, including 29 years on death row, with a gift to the Sunny Center. It can make the world of difference to people like Paul. He spoke about what it means for him to have a home like the Sunny Center community residence, saying, “Last night, I made a cup of coffee and sat outside on the porch of my little house, just sitting down not thinking about anything, and it really hit me, “Dude you’re free.” It was amazing. It made me cry. I’m living in a beautiful little house and help with handy work for four houses that are all for exonerees. Me doing a little handyman work is my way of giving back a little bit and contributing.”


Paul and his newly adopted cat Freedom.

Paul Hildwin celebrated his 60th birthday this month at the Sunny Center community residence in Tampa, FL when he reunited with his friend, fellow death row exoneree Clemente Aguirre, and fellow exoneree community resident Danny Brown. This was an especially sweet birthday, as Paul, because in addition to celebrating his first birthday in decades as a free man, he is also a four time cancer survivor. Even in the time of COVID-19, Paul is finding fellowship and community at the Sunny Center although he says he keeps his distance! He has been welcomed by the other three residents, including Clemente and Danny, and Paul has adopted a cat that he named Freedom! He is enjoying having his own home where he can cook and exercise, enjoying the simple pleasures of freedom. 
We are thrilled for Paul who is surrounded and supported by his fellow community residents. But we are also mindful of all the many other exonerees who may be struggling with isolation, loneliness, anxiety and fear. We are doing our very best to bridge the distance by phone, Facetime, text and email. We want to keep connected from a distance. 


A special grocery delivery by our volunteer Sara.

We are grateful to be the beneficiaries of the kindness of volunteers, including Sara who has been making trips to the shops to keep us in provisions! Thank you! However, in accordance with practicing social distancing, we are suspending volunteers being physically at the Sunny Center until it is safe to do so again. In the meantime, we do have volunteers who are supporting operations remotely, including our volunteer board of directors! And we are grateful for their assistance!!! 


Even the donkeys are practicing social distancing! Our furry and feathered friends have been great company in these isolating days. They remind us that we benefit enormously from their faithful companionship. 


Sunny and Peter do activism remotely in the time of COVID-19. 

Sunny was invited by The Trailblazers to host a Zoom gathering for more than 120 women from Britain to Bahrain to discuss how to manage isolation in these social distancing days. Sunny was in solitary confinement for five years and learned how to cope with loneliness and social isolation through meditation, yoga, mind training and prayer. She was happy to be able to use technology to share her experience to help others! She is also doing a video yoga class for exonerees to help them manage the challenges of these days of COVID-19. 
We are keeping abreast of efforts to assist the wrongfully convicted and those who suffer on death row. And since we cannot gather in groups in person, we are learning to gather in groups online. In the past month we have directed many of our efforts to assist individuals who have been wrongfully convicted but have not yet been exonerated. They need support and hope that they will not be forgotten. 
We hope you will not forget them either. Please consider remembering them and supporting them with a donation. 


We are keeping our hopes up and our dreams alive for a more just and peaceful world by connecting with all of you. Together – even while we are apart – we can work towards justice and towards a better world. 
Thank you for your continued interest and support. Thank you for being part of this wonderful network around the world of like-minded activists for justice. Thank you for joining us in hope for a more peaceful, loving, healthy and fair place on earth. 

Peace and Love, 
Sunny and Peter 

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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