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
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.
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!
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.
Peace and Love,
Sunny and Peter