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

Mar 17, 2021 | News, Newsletter

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 been free for years, Exonerees already felt isolated in a world which moved on without them while they were locked away.

The enforced isolation was very hard for many of them, and Peter and I were busy trying to help fellow Exonerees while simultaneously having to stay home and out of contact from others.

But despite the challenges that Covid presented, we also discovered the silver lining. Our connections with other Exonerees, and with other people who could help them, actually GREW! We were able to increase a part of our program, reaching out to Exonerees remotely, much earlier than we had planned.

We regularly keep in touch with Exonerees by phone and over the internet using email, chat, and Zoom—whatever technology they are most comfortable with. We started an online group for women Exonerees to share their unique challenges and address their needs. We even started a Wish List program so that Exonerees could receive things they needed to move toward having a normal life again. And thanks to our volunteers and support staff, we were able to bring Exonerees to live at The Sunny Healing Center in Tampa.

We’ve been able to connect with others who are working to help Exonerees, to share information and ideas. People like Aaron in Detroit and Raymond in Ohio, who are each trying to find housing for Exonerees in those regions. This was another dream that we had, to connect to fellow Exonerees who are also trying to help, and to build a network through which we can quickly get Exonerees the help we need.

Much of this is still in the early stages, but the forced social distancing of the past year moved these dreams forward. We’ve still got a long way to go, but we are on the path.

We couldn’t have done all of this without you! The support from our subscribers, donors, and advisers has been fantastic. You are the wheels that keep The Sunny Center’s mission moving forward.

The coming year is an incredibly important one for The Sunny Center. Help us build on these new connections to create a network that will help Exonerees to heal, recover, and rebuild their lives. Your donation does incredible things for Exonerees. Thank you.


A Thank You From David

David Stonecypher is overwhelmed by the gifts and the outpouring of love he has received from so many people since we posted his story. He asked us to share the following:

“It has encouraged me to experience people being kind to a perfect stranger. Being wrongfully accused and wrongfully convicted had really eroded my faith in humanity. This kindness is a light in that darkness.”

David can still use some help to visit his mother’s grave regularly and bring her roses. We set up an Amazon Wish List for him so that you can directly contribute an item or a gift card to pay for gas and flowers.

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


Support for Exonerees

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.

Peace and Love,
Sunny and Peter

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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!

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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.

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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.

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.

Finding Happiness in the Darkest Times

I planned to talk about grief this week. But instead, I decided to talk about happiness. Because they are connected. The more happiness you have with someone, the more you grieve when they’re not here anymore.

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