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 

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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.

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“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

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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.