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 

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.

You Are Beautiful

It doesn’t matter what shape you are or what size you are. It matters how you feel inside. You are who you are. That’s you. The beauty comes from the energy that you radiate from within.

Exoneree Terry Wanzer, In His Own Words

Terry Wanzer was exonerated in 1996. But it took more than 24 years for the state of Georgia to clear his record. Read Terry’s story.

Celebrating Spring With Our Furry & Feathered Friends

With spring well underway, we thought it a great time to update you on how all of our friends at the Healing Center are doing!

Our Activism: Moving the Needle for Exonerees

March was another great month for activism. We got the word out about the struggle that Exonerees face after being freed, and raised awareness of the need for housing, counseling, medical care, and more – all the things that humans have a right to, and that have been denied to Exonerees for so long.

Watch: Dealing With Grief

It seems these days there is more and more to grieve about: the loss of our normal way of life, the inability to gather together. And sometimes we have to grieve over the emotions that we have to put aside until another time.

One Year On, A Silver Lining During the Time of Covid

Finding a connection even during social distancing. Connection is at the heart of what we do at The Sunny Center. And the pandemic, while making it harder to connect for everyone, made things especially hard for Exonerees. Whether they were recently released or have...

Exoneree David Stonecypher, In His Own Words

David Stonecypher was exonerated in 2019 after more than a decade behind bars in the Philippines. Like many Exonerees, he is facing the challenge of building a new life in a world that has changed dramatically while he was struggling to prove his innocence.

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