Joy and Celebration In The Time of Covid

Dec 15, 2020 | Newsletter

A winter’s evening at The Sunny Center.

Dear Friends of The Sunny Center,

What a year this has been! We have faced, together, challenges that none of us have seen before in our lifetime. Now, we are finishing this year together, and looking ahead to the bright hope that new vaccines are soon going to bring an end to the time of Covid and that we can all travel and be together again. We are so excited thinking about the possibility of opening the Healing Center to our Exoneree guests again.

There is also much for which to be grateful, as there were blessings in 2020. As Covid kept us physically apart, technology gave us the gift of connection because of Zoom and Facetime, and cellphones. In fact, we boosted our outreach to Exonerees and supporters and redesigned our website to be more inclusive.

In 2021, our aim is to reach out to many more Exonerees and help them find the path to a healthy, fulfilling life. And that’s why, more than ever, we are so thankful to have you as a part of our extended family. Your support through this year has been amazing. Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

Read on for news about our on-site volunteers, about our Exoneree residents at the Living Center, and about ways you can continue to help The Sunny Center to expand our service to Exonerees.


Around The Sunny Healing Center

Our winter crop is coming up in the polytunnel! This will keep us fed throughout the cold season and all the way into summer.

Access to all areas of the property has been made easier. The golf cart that was donated has been modified to make it easier for Sunny to take our guests around to see the magnificent views. The house has been made more welcoming, with touches like drapes and shades on the windows. We have fresh spinach and eggs every day.

Peter nestles one of the hens on his arm.

Even though we live in a beautiful and remote place, our Internet access is superb, and we spend time most days communicating with our Exoneree family and supporters in the US and around the world. It’s a big job! But we are grateful that we have the energy and the resources to continue to do it and to bring healing and happiness to our Exoneree family and many others who have found that they are facing issues of isolation, depression and disconnection as a result of the pandemic.


Around the Tampa Living Center

Danny celebrates the season with a cozy outdoor fire!

It is a source of great joy for us to see the dream of a community for Exonerees become a true reality! Our community is getting ready for the holiday season, sharing food and helping one another to prepare and bring the joy of the season.

Even the neighbors around the community are contributing and participating in making this a very special holiday season! The Buccaneers, the Tampa football team, have donated hams! Each house has an inspirational painting donated by our board member Peter Tunney!


Exoneree Wish Lists

It can sometimes take time for service groups and even The Sunny Center to get Exonerees the things they need as they settle in to new lives. And many of the little things that we all need – from cleaning supplies to bedsheets to pet supplies – can really add up quickly! That’s why we have started a Wish List program. You can help participating Exonerees directly by purchasing things they need or want—things that will make starting a life of freedom a little bit easier, and things to help them feel more normal again. It can be so difficult to just feel “normal” after such a long time! Each Exoneree has an individual Amazon Wish List.

Click here to go to Paul’s wish list.
Click here to go to Danny’s wish list.
Click here to go to Joseph’s wish list.
Follow the link beside each Exoneree’s name to go to their Amazon Wish List. Then, select the item you want to purchase for them. The item will ship to their personal address. These gifts go 100% to the individual Exoneree.

Thank you so much for supporting Exonerees! And don’t forget, you can purchase through smile.amazon.com and select The Sunny Center Foundation USA, Inc. as your charity of choice.


Our Volunteers & Supporters

We are looking forward to welcoming in-person volunteers at the Healing Center sometime in the future – hopefully by the second half of 2021! That all depends on how quickly the pandemic abates.

In the meantime, a cadre of dedicated local volunteers has worked with us, at both the Healing Center in Ireland and the Living Center in Tampa, Florida. They have been absolutely essential to keeping things running at the Healing Center, and at the Living Center helping Dorothy to make sure our Exoneree residents were safe and comfortable, and able to use their smartphones and computers to communicate!

We’ve reported on their activities in past months, but we want to give a big “end of the year” thank you to our volunteers:

Ireland:

Angela – Conall – Mike – Tom – Margaret – Sara – Martina – Caitriona – Lelia – Cliona S – Michael A – Don W – Dr. Grounds – Kevin – Paidrac – Siorse

Florida:

Joseph – Reverend Al – All the neighbors

And to our tireless support team:

Dorothy – Samantha & Charles – Caitriona – Tress – Dr. Lyter – Sinead – Abi – Blake – Arnoud – Reverend Robina – Reggie

Join Us

Each and every one of you can participate in activism by talking to your friends and social media connections about The Sunny Center, our work and our mission. Send them to the website (https://sunnycenter.org) where they can learn more and donate!

We also had a couple of subscribers donate their air miles. Although we can’t use them at the moment, they will be very important in the future. Thank you to those who have pledged air miles! Contact us to learn how you can donate air miles.


Our Activism

Sunny participated in the Global Call For Women Summit. This three-day online event held Dec. 8, 9 and 10 was designed to help women awaken their potential and become fearless to handle the challenges of life. Sunny was a featured speaker. As an accomplished meditation and yoga instructor, Sunny led an inspiring discussion on maintaining a positive outlook even when circumstances in life are beyond your control. It is something that so many of us have had to confront during this challenging year.

In mid-November, we spoke to the law class at Griffith College Innocence Project, Dublin.

We also spoke to the law class at Manchester University, UK, after a showing of the film “Fallout” and a discussion with Justin Brooks of the San Diego Innocence Project.

We did a presentation for the University of Iowa, US, to Professor Brian Farell’s law students. And we did a presentation for a boys’ college religious and social studies class, in Dublin.

Also last month, we were part of a BCR podcast episode called “4.8 Religion: Flaws of the Universal Justice System.” In the episode, we talked with hosts Jack Burke and Will Woods about the flaws in justice systems around the world and how easy it is to have your life ruined by wrongful convictions. You can listen to the podcast here.

In the new year, we will be initiating a regular session for Exonerees to get together, meet and share concerns and solutions together. These have been difficult times. But it has been even more so for those of us who have suffered, and continue to suffer, the effects of PTSD as a result of years of depression and disconnection that are now being triggered again by the current situation.


Our Furry & Feathered Friends

Despite the cold weather, the hens continue to visit us at the dining room window, perhaps to see where their eggs have gone! Mrs. Chuckles is still the boss! But they have all integrated nicely. Mrs. White has decided that, occasionally, she would like to be petted.

Barney has adjusted to being our only dog for now. He spends most of his time at Sunny’s feet while she works at her desk, unless Peter is going outside – and then Barney becomes very animated! He has learned not to chase the two feral cats who have taken up residence in the dog kennels. Peter has insulated them and fill them with fresh hay for warmth.

Our two indoor cats, Bogey and Milly, have agreed to share space outside with the other two cats. And we hope to find a new rescue dog as a companion for Barney. He enjoys female company! That’s our boy Barney!

By early next year, we expect to have more rescue horses and donkeys and will be constructing a new shelter for them up in the fields beyond the house.

Animals are so therapeutic. When our visitors come, they will find healing and love with the animals. We are a happy family!


Video: Survival Yoga

When the messages from authority figures are so influential, how do we know which is the right action to take?
Subscribe to our YouTube channel for updates!
Thank you to Abi for processing and captioning!

Support Our Work

We work with Exonerees by whatever means are available to them. Some Exonerees can use Zoom, as they have access to a computer and high-speed internet. Others only have phones. We reach out and work with them individually. We know from our own experiences how difficult it can be to transition to a healthy, fulfilling life after so many years in isolation.

Now more than ever, we rely on your support. Please consider donating through this link. Or contact us for other ways to donate, such as by check. You can also donate air miles that we will use to fly Exonerees to the Healing Center in Ireland once our guest program resumes.

You can also support us through Amazon Smile! Just use smile.amazon.com every time you shop on Amazon, and select The Sunny Center Foundation USA, Inc. as your charity of choice. Thank you!


Stay Connected

We could not have made it through this year as successfully as we did without the help of you, our supporters, volunteers and friends. In 2021, we will continue to grow and expand our outreach to even more Exonerees.

Please forward this newsletter to everyone you know, so they can subscribe and get all our updates. Encourage them to participate through donations to The Sunny Center or to volunteer.

We are developing more volunteer opportunities for 2021, so stay tuned!

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.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from The Sunny Center.

You have Successfully Subscribed!