Not just a simple card, a gesture that meant the WORLD to someone else.
Most of you know about the Sunshine Club. It was something I started when I learned that many inmates do not receive mail. Imagine how sad would it be on your birthday, especially if you are incarcerated, not to receive a single card. I thought about a program that could help with that; not only cards on birthdays but sympathy cards, thinking of you cards, get well cards. Most of the cards the Sunshine Club sends have been birthday cards. Recently I learned that the most important cards we've sent were to one special inmate, Cheryl Nelson...thinking of you and get well cards. When Jessica learned Cheryl had terminal cancer, she asked me to put Cheryl’s name on the Sunshine Club list. I asked and the Sunshine Club delivered! We thought this might put a smile on Cheryl's face for a moment, but what I never expected was this...
On Wednesday, I got a call from Jessica. "Mom, Cheryl Nelson passed away today. Thanks, Mom for sending her cards. I am sure she appreciated them”. Thursday another call from Jessica, "Mom while I was at work today, the Chaplin came to see me, I was so scared, Mom, I thought, 'oh no please not me, please don't tell me something has happened to someone in my family." Mom, I was shaking I was so upset. The Chaplin asked me to come into the conference room with him, then asked me if I knew Cheryl Nelson. I told him I did, that she had been on my yard but I didn't know her very well. He said but she knew you, she spoke very highly of you, and your mom. She was grateful to you. He asked if I knew if she had any family. They need someone to claim her remains or she will get buried in Potters field. Potters field, the field of the forgotten ~ the place that no inmate wants to go."
Sometimes you can't imagine how the smallest of things can make a difference. It's like the power of the mustard seed that can move a mountain. This story is proof that the Sunshine Club is the mustard seed that moved a mountain. While Cheryl lay dying in the hospital, still an inmate of Perryville prison and all alone, she got the cards from the Sunshine Club, she knew that someone cared. Someone cared enough to tell her they were thinking of her and that she was not forgotten.
Thanks to all of you in the Sunshine Club who send cards to women in prison. You are like the mustard seed moving a mountain of love and positive energy into a very dark place and making a difference.
Rest in Peace, Cheryl, we cared and we will not forget.