More Than 2,700 Exonerees Need Your Help

May 28, 2021 | Activism, Newsletter

Some of the many volunteers who help us, near and far.

We started The Sunny Center with the dream of helping fellow Exonerees, one-on-one, to recover from the trauma of being wrongfully convicted and imprisoned. By bringing them to The Sunny Healing Center in Ireland, they begin the process of healing in an environment of peace and wild beauty.

We expanded our program to include The Sunny Living Center in the US, a supportive environment where Exonerees can stay as they take the first steps to rejoining society until they can live on their own.

As a small nonprofit, we are able to engage with Exonerees in a way that larger organizations and social services cannot. We work directly with Exonerees, even though we have to do it remotely for now due to the pandemic. At the Living Center, our support coordinator, Dorothy, still works with the residents directly on a day-to-day basis. And we work with a large number of people remotely across the US.

The connection doesn’t end once we have helped to find solutions to the immediate problems. We are a family! From time to time, we keep in touch with each of our clients, to see if they need help and to share their successes!

There are more than 2,700 Exonerees in the U.S., with more joining their ranks every week. In 2020, 129 people were exonerated of crimes they did not commit. And, in most cases, Exonerees do not have access to the same resources as those recently paroled and released, such as housing and education. The need for resources and change within the system is immense. But together, we can start making a difference right away! Exonerees just being released from years of wrongful incarceration cannot wait for legislation. They need somewhere to live and some help to live now!

We could not do this without the help of volunteers. And you don’t have to live in Tampa or anywhere in particular to be of help! It doesn’t matter where you are physically located. It only matters where your heart is located and your willingness to be of service, to help give back a little to those from whom society has taken so very much.

We are so grateful to the people who have rallied to support Exonerees—not just through monetary donations but by offering services of all kinds, from legal to social work, to therapy, to helping an Exoneree with repairs around their home, or just being a friend. And you can always reach out directly to one of our Exonerees through the wish list program that you can find in each of our newsletters.

A Few of Our Volunteers

Three men stand arm in arm.

Reverend Al has become a friend to some of our residents at the Sunny Living Center in Tampa.

Margaret and her husband helped us establish the garden in our new polytunnel.

A group of people pose for a picture.

Students worked with Sunny Living Center residents in 2020.

Joseph, a law student, worked with our Tampa residents last year as part of his studies.

Tyler has connected us with the law staff at Stetson University and helped us in many important ways.

Volunteers with SUNDAYS WITH SUNNY – Thanks to all of the volunteers who are offering their services to our new program for women Exonerees! Each week we’ve worked with someone who has different expertise in areas like art, singing, meditation, relaxation, exercise, music, journaling and more.

If you’re an instructor who wants to participate in our program, let us know!

How You Can Help

Let us know your skills and your areas of interest! There are so many ways in which a person can be helpful.

We always need medical and dental providers – Exonerees often have complex needs due to their traumatic experience, but may not have access to consistent medical or dental care.

But we also need people who can provide skills in singing and dancing, meditation and exercise programs, physical therapy, art therapy and music therapy.

Maybe you have a comfort dog, a fishing boat, or tickets to an amusement park or a sports game. Maybe you teach people to swim. Maybe you can donate air miles so we can bring people to Ireland to the Healing Center.

We hope to resume accepting overseas volunteers at the Sunny Healing Center soon. But we also need volunteers for remote tasks. If you have a skill that you can offer, such as grant writing, social media, or tutoring, especially in the area of IT, please let us know.

If you would like to help, get in touch and let us know what you can offer. In these days of Zoom, there are no limits!

Wish Lists: Help Exonerees Directly

Support an Exoneree directly by purchasing a needed item for them!

Terry’s wish list
David’s wish list
Paul’s wish list
Danny’s wish list
Joseph’s wish list

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

Women Exonerees are welcome to join SUNDAYS WITH SUNNY, a group online chat where we can share and learn and grow together, and just be there to support one another.

And all Exonerees, please visit our Outreach page and contact us if you need help in any way. We will respond to you. Even if you just need someone to talk to!

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!

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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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.

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.

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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