January is normally a quiet month for most of us, as we rest from the busy time of Christmas and visiting family and friends. But this is not a normal January. Here at The Sunny Healing Center in Ireland, Peter and I, like the rest of the country and the rest of the world, are staying at home.
Sometimes, it can seem like a time of hardship will never end, and sometimes we feel that we can’t bear it much longer. I can tell you that better times do come, and we will be able to visit each other again, and travel, and do the things that we enjoyed before the time of Covid.
So, this month’s issue may be shorter than usual, but bear with us. January seems like a month in which nothing much is happening; when the ground is frozen and covered with snow in many parts of the world. But underneath the soil, plenty of work is being done for the growing season ahead. Read on for the latest updates on the Exonerees we work with, doings around the Center, and more.
Around The Sunny Healing Center
We have been working mainly on Zoom, which doesn’t take the place of a face-to-face hug but it does give us the opportunity to connect and see each other regardless of the distance! It is one of the unexpected benefits of quarantine. Now, it is not necessary to be able to travel and stay in an expensive hotel in order to come together. Every day, we gather with people from all over the world without ever leaving a chair! And we are filled with gratitude! It is important to seek out and focus on the positive aspect of the situation.
Even when we were sentenced to death, there was a positive aspect. It gave us time and opportunity and to work on our spiritual selves, and appreciate the small blessings in our lives. That is what we are trying to help and encourage people to do now. As Exonerees, we never expected our experiences while confined to be relevant to the rest of the world!
Gratitude is the key. You get to choose, every day, every minute of every day, what you want to focus on. So, don’t watch too much news. Instead, count your blessings, help someone in need, and, if all else fails, eat chocolate!
Around the Tampa Living Center
The Tampa Living Center remains at full capacity. We feel extremely fortunate that we were able to provide housing to Exonerees who otherwise might have been homeless. When a person is first released, they cannot even depend on Social Security or SSI immediately. They need help to apply and to navigate the system which is even slower and more cumbersome than before. And for older residents, who might not be in good health, they might be stuck somewhere alone.
At the Tampa Living Center, the Exonerees have each other and the help of our brilliant coordinator, Dorothy, who helps each one to become as independent as possible and then fills in where needed. We are a family!
And you, our friends and supporters, are part of that family. And that is what keeps us going! Peace is the way; love is the answer, and gratitude is the key. Each of us does what we can, and if we continue to do that, our little family can continue to grow and be self-sustaining.
It is heartwarming how many people have volunteered, both at the Sunny Healing Center and at the Sunny Living Center. Many are working from home, or have lost their jobs and have time on their hands. And they choose to use that time to try to help others. Isn’t that just beautiful!
Our Furry & Feathered Friends
A Tribute to Mrs. Chuckles
Last week, Mrs. Chuckles crossed the rainbow bridge. She gave us eggs right up until the last few days of her time with us. We are going to miss her.
Today we will grieve our loss. Tomorrow we will remember all of the wonderful times we had with her. And then, we will move on. Hold onto the memories and see which of the new hens will become the leader! We will keep you posted.
Our furry and feathered friends have been a great comfort to us during the cold, dreary winter days and long, dark nights.
Exoneree Wish Lists
Our Wish List program is only a few months old, but it has had such a positive effect for our participating Exonerees! Through this program you can directly help an Exoneree by purchasing and sending something from their Amazon 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
Our wonderful volunteer Joseph has gone on to law school in another city. We are missing him greatly as he was our technology expert! Learning to use computers and smartphones is not an easy undertaking. It is probably the most frustrating thing that one has to learn upon first getting out of prison.
The next frustrating thing is to find out that, even though society is responsible for locking you up for a crime you didn’t commit, that responsibility doesn’t seem to extend to helping you to recover from the experience. Most people do not get compensation and even when they do it can take months and years.
We are a grassroots organization, so we depend heavily on our volunteer friends and supporters who use their expertise in various areas to help make life a little easier for our Exoneree Family.
Recently, we needed help in the legal area in order for some Exonerees’ medical needs to be properly taken care of. And we are happy to say that, as of yesterday, we have that help! Isn’t it wonderful! Life is a process. And, if you can learn to love the process, it becomes much more joyful. Not that there aren’t challenges, and disappointments. But, as they say in many of the self-help and healing programs, I will ask for help with the things I cannot change; recognize the things that I can change; and ask for the wisdom to know the difference.
Thank you to our wonderful family of volunteers!
If you’d like to learn more about volunteer opportunities with The Sunny Center, please contact us! We respond to queries as quickly as possible.
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 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.
We would like to introduce you to an Exoneree who we were fortunate to have spend time with us at the Healing Center in Ireland in 2016. His name is Raymond Towler.
(Image source: Ohio.com)
Raymond is an Exoneree who took his healing seriously, and he is now a musician and an artist. He recently opened an Exoneree home in Ohio! He is truly paying it forward. We are so proud of Raymond.
Raymond has continued his healing journey with the Healing Justice organization as well as with The Sunny Center. Healing is a lifelong journey, and each crisis and each setback is a steppingstone along the way.
Thank you, Raymond, for being who you are and for making us feel doubly grateful. It is gratifying to see that the work that we do can be so fruitful. And thank you for paying it forward and helping other Exonerees. We feel it is a continuation of the work that we did together and we are happy to be able to collaborate with Raymond in order to pass on the healing and the knowledge.
Video: Survival Yoga
Lately, we seem to be busier than ever! Because it is no longer necessary to travel, we are able to do more work than ever before!
We participated with Cornell University and a number of online sessions concerning the federal executions, and abolishing the death penalty in general.
We are also involved with groups addressing the inequities in sentencing, especially when it comes to women. We have been working with groups that focus on overcoming addiction, which is a big problem among the Exoneree community in general.
And we have been doing quite a bit of work with individuals, not only in the U.S. but in a number of other countries that do not have even the limited resources that we have in the U.S. to help Exonerees.
We are working with the fledgling Sunny Center community in Pakistan whose founder, Sohail Yafat, is seeking temporary respite in Norway as a break from his struggle. We hope someday to be able to bring him to The Sunny Healing center in Ireland.
As we begin the New Year of 2021, the best we can do is to stay strong for each other! We will get through.
If you are an Exoneree who needs someone to talk to, or needs help in some way, contact us. Even though we are not yet allowed to travel or bring others to us, we can connect over the phone or online.
Thank you to all of you who have supported us through donations, through encouraging messages on our social media pages and email, and who have donated air miles to help Exonerees travel to us in the future. We couldn’t do this without your help. Here’s to a better, healthier 2021.
Peace and Love,
Sunny & Peter