May 2020 Newsletter

May 21, 2020 | News, Uncategorized

Dear Friends of The Sunny Center,

We are all learning new ways to live in the strange world in which we now find ourselves, but we continue to remain connected, bonded by our humanity. This is particularly true for our network of supporters – those men and women around the globe who believe that everyone has a right to live in a just world.

We are grateful for the legion of freedom fighters who are committed to challenging injustice and providing assistance to the wrongfully convicted and exonerated in every corner of the world. We also remain committed to this goal.   

Now is a good time to use this grand pause to reflect on what our priorities are, and should be: health, safety, peace, personal responsibility and our interconnectedness. 


OUR EXONEREE GUESTS AND VISITORS

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Dorothy and Paul outside the new shed.


This month, after a generous gift by the death row chaplain Dale and his wife Susan, our exoneree community residence in Tampa was able to purchase and assemble a shed for a washing machine and dryer that can be used by our residents. Our exoneree outreach coordinator Dorothy and our resident Paul Hildwin teamed up to get the shed erected. And, after three days of hard work in the hot sun, we have a beautiful new shed! Thank you Dorothy! Thank you Paul! Thank you Chaplin Dale and Susan! 

This is the kind of community spirit we welcome and are inspired by! We are grateful for those whose generosity of spirit, skills and wallets have made life a little easier and more convenient for our residents. THANK YOU!!!  

It is no longer safe to go to the laundromat. Many of our exonerees are of an age that makes them particularly vulnerable and are circumscribed from going into public places. This is the time when we need to care for each other, more than ever.

Perhaps this is also a time to consider whether your gift – no matter how small or large – could make a difference in the life of someone like another of our Sunny Center community residents, Clemente Aguirre, whose claim for compensation was denied after he became the 28th person exonerated from death row from Florida – like Sunny, herself – after serving almost 15 years for a double murder he didn’t commit.

We thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.


OUR VOLUNTEERS 

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Dr. Lloyd Lyter.

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Student volunteer Stacey-Ann Downes.

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Student volunteer Yasmine Soliman.

Under the guidance of Dr. Lloyd Lyter, Ph.D., Professor, Director of the Marywood University Pocono MSW Program at East Stroudsburg University, graduate students are currently developing a manual to assist individuals, organizations, lawyers, and activists who work with exonerees, as well as exonerees, in general. It is our hope that this manual will maximize the benefits devoted to helping exonerees. This is a project that was initiated by Sunny and Peter in partnership with Dr. Lloyd Lyter. There are so many volunteers behind the scenes who help daily with the operations of the Sunny Center Home in Ireland and the Sunny Center Community in Florida. 

This month, we’d like to acknowledge the ongoing work of all the local volunteers who are delivering provisions and checking in on us at the Sunny Center Home as we “cocoon.” THANK YOU!!! We are getting through this together even though we are keeping a safe distance apart.  

We would also like to thank all of those who are creating love offerings on Zoom and social media, making it possible for us to connect with each other in meaningful ways even though we must remain physically apart. Our biggest challenge now is to find ways to reach out to and connect with those who are not technologically adept. We know the consequences of extreme isolation. We find it interesting that our prison experience has now become valuable to the rest of the world. And we are happy to be able to give back! It is a way in which we never thought we would be able to connect with the rest of the world.

It is for this reason that Sunny has made her yoga and relaxation/meditation videos public, rather than just sending them to her students. For exonerees, there is a fine line between triggering PTSD and an ironic appreciation of remembering what it is like to deal with isolation. We will share more of this with you in the coming months.


OUR FURRY AND FEATHERED FRIENDS

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Barney down by the lake.

The furry and feathered friends who keep us company at the Sunny Center Home here in Connemara are faithful and dependable company who cheer us up every day – whether it be Barney down by the lake or Millie stretching out lazily on our bed. We are happy to share this corner of earth with our beloved furry and feathered friends. 

OUR ACTIVISM 

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Sunny teaching a yoga session remotely in the time of COVID-19.

Sunny continues to offer her once a week yoga, meditation and breathing class free of charge to anyone needing to practice at home. She has received wonderful feedback on how helpful it is to set aside a few moments to clear one’s inner space and expand out beyond the confines of walls or borders to connect with loved ones and to know that we are never alone. Set yourself free! Look for the links on our social media and on our website and youtube channel. We hope you will not forget them either. Please consider remembering them and supporting them with a donation.

STAY CONNECTED 

PictureSunny facetious with the Sunny Center coordinator Anne Driscoll.


We are living through one of the most challenging periods of our lives. Never before have we been reminded so profoundly of what human contact and companionship means to us, individually and collectively. We want all our friends and supporters to know that we intend to stay connected in every way available to us – phone, text, email, Facetime, Skype, Zoom, and even snail mail! We know how vitally important our network of exonerees and like-minded activists for justice is to keep hope alive for a more humane world. Thank you for your support. And if you’d like to underscore your belief in the mission of the Sunny Center and our commitment that every exoneree deserves to lead a fulfilling life of freedom and peace, please consider making a donation here

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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