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Emmy and Ron Fisher

 

The Thank You Project

 

 

Dear Emmy and Ron,

I wanted to let both of you know how much I enjoy the natural sundial on the Sandy Pond Beach. I have for years. It’s easy to lose track of time on the beach. Thanks to you I always know when its time to head back to camp for supper!

This year I was particularly delighted to meet Emmy. While you dug two days’ worth of windblown sand from around the clock, Ron, Emmy shared with me the history of the sundial, about the Friends of Sandy Pond and the work you both do within the local school system to educate students about beach preservation.

It was interesting to learn the roman numerals on the clock are a new addition. I was surprised — but not shocked — to learn that kids no longer learn them in school. As a parent of two, I think it’s very cool you added them to the sundial so they’d at least be exposed to them.

When we vacation in Sandy Pond each year, it’s a special time for our family. Brothers, sisters, parents, grandkids — we gather from all over for one week in July. For years we have played around and near the sundial. Every time I saw it, I wondered who did it every day. I am very grateful to have finally put your names and faces to the good work.

Thank you for all you do and all year long to keep Sandy Pond and the beach just as we remember: absolutely perfect.

 

Sincerely,

 

Julie Turner

The Thank You Project is a yearlong Wordsmith letter writing and blog project. I’m recognizing and thanking people who enrich my life and make my community an even better place to live.

Writing for Babies

I have friends who are expecting — something you are always grateful to experience again if your kids are way past the cuddle, coo and carry stages. But this morning was a special treat for me. Within minutes of each other, two friends posted letters written to their soon-to-arrive children. Monica, New Mom in New York, and Chelsea, There’s No Place Like Home, both shared colorful highlights (+ a few potholes) of their pregnancies and their hopes as they wait for those two tiny miracles.

I know these letters aren’t meant for me, but I loved both dearly. So, I thought I’d share them with you.

C.J.’s Auto Sales

 

The Thank You Project

 

 

Dear C.J.’s Auto Sales,

When I rolled into your car lot the other day, I was simply stopping to check my tire. It was, apparently, flat as a pancake. Not what you want on the way to pick up your kids after a long day of work.

Your employees — Herbert, Reggie and Greg — came out to help me without a moment’s hesitation. First they tried to fill up the tire. Then, once we determined it was a lost cause, they were nice enough to put on the spare.

I was surprised to be back on my way in what felt like mere minutes.

I made it to pick up my two boys before school closed and shared my half-hour saga with them knowing they’d be intrigued by all that transpired. I told them about the tire going flat, how I could tell there was a problem and that I found help just around the corner from school.

For me, though, here’s where the story really began.

We talked about how the men didn’t have to help me. I explained the business was there to sell cars not fix them like a garage. I told them the men probably helped me because they felt somewhere inside that it was the right thing to do. I shared my hope that they would remember how I’d been helped by your employees even though it was likely they would gain nothing for the work they did.  It was pure and simple kindness.

I am tremendously grateful for the assistance I got from Herbert, Reggie and Greg. Their kindness meant the world to me.

Sincerely,

 

Julie Turner

The Thank You Project is a yearlong Wordsmith letter writing and blog project. I’m recognizing and thanking people who enrich my life and make my community an even better place to live.

Columbia Green

The Thank You Project

 

 

Dear Columbia Green,

I was surprised to drive by the very busy corner of Gervais and Huger a few mornings ago and see three hearty souls braving wet, dreary rain to “green” the long-vacant street corner where Kline Steel once stood.

It was no surprise it happened because of Columbia Green.

So many of our city’s most beautiful — and challenging — landscaping efforts have happened at the hands of your nonprofit organization. Your group has ensured our city’s gateways and busiest thoroughfares leaf and bloom whatever the season.

Countless times I’ve glanced outside my car window to see a surprising burst of wild flowers or wondered how a grouping of plants thrives on a tiny island of dirt that’s surrounded by concrete. Usually, tucked into that small patch of beauty somewhere is a small, understated green sign — the mark of Columbia Green.

It’s amazing how little it takes to give a barren spot some visual interest. A few carefully placed railroad ties, some healthy soil and low-maintenance plants are an eye-catching improvement anywhere.

What’s most impressive is that this entire group is dedicated to making these small roadside miracles possible. It’s work every resident, business, community and visitor benefits from.

Thank you for making our entire city your front-yard, Columbia Green.

It has never looked more welcoming.

 

Sincerely,

Julie Turner

The Thank You Project is a yearlong Wordsmith letter writing and blog project. I’m recognizing and thanking people who enrich my life and make my community an even better place to live.

Trader Joe’s

The Thank You Project

 

 

Dear Trader Joe’s,

I’m not writing to thank you for coming to Columbia — although I am overjoyed. My gratitude stems from something else your company is doing in this venture: taking an old, abandoned building and giving it a new life as a Trader Joe’s.

Like many other longtime Columbians, I remember weekly treks to Columbia Mall, Decker Boulevard and Richland Mall to do most of our local shopping. In the days before Harbison and Sandhills, many large and small retailers were wedged in the not-quite-Northeast area.

What remains in the wake of a once-thriving retail hub? Decaying structures. Vacant parking lots. Barely occupied strip malls. The weeds, broken glass and emptiness are painful wounds that stagnate and drain communities where business once boomed.

There’s a good deal to be said for businesses like yours and others including Whole Foods and Pasta Fresca who choose to retrofit and rebuild existing structures rather than demolish what little is left of our natural assets.

I hope your decision to come to Forest Acres proves to be a great move for your company. In my eyes, it’s already invaluable.

Thank you for investing in the community I love.

Sincerely,

Julie Turner

The Thank You Project is a yearlong Wordsmith letter writing and blog project. I’m recognizing and thanking people who enrich my life and make my community an even better place to live.

Forest Acres Public Works

The Thank You Project

 

Dear Forest Acres Public Works,

Last week, one of your trash collection employees caught my eye. Not once, but twice. Here’s why.

I happened to glance out of the window as the truck came toward our section of Oakwood Drive. I noticed a worker look toward our neighbor’s house. Their trash can was not on the street. It was close to their house since it’s not easy for them to get it to the curb. Rather than skip the stop, which could have easily been done, he walked up to the house, retrieved the can and wheeled it to the truck.

Once it was empty, he didn’t leave the can lying on it’s side or even on the street. He wheeled it all the way back up the driveway, close to the house. In fact, he placed it right where it came from. Whether he knew it was a difficult task for our neighbors or not didn’t matter. I found the gesture incredibly thoughtful.

As I sat there wondering who he was and if he was our regular trash guy, he made his way back toward the truck. He paused in the middle of the street as the truck lumbered ahead. He’d spied a few pieces of trash that has escaped from the truck’s jaws. Rather then step over it or pretend he didn’t see it he picked it all up and moved on down the street.

It would have been a cinch for him to take the easy way out twice that morning but he didn’t.

I wish my children had been close-by so I could have shown them a great example of someone who went above and beyond what was expected even when no one was looking.

Thank you — to him and to each and every one of you — for the hard work you do every day. It does not go unnoticed.

 

Sincerely,

 

Julie Turner

The Thank You Project is a yearlong Wordsmith letter writing and blog project. I’m recognizing and thanking people who enrich my life and make my community an even better place to live.

Be Beep

The Thank You Project

 

 

Dear Be Beep,

It’s not often you walk into a store and know you’ll find exactly what you’re after. Every time I walk into your store that’s just how I feel. Even better, I leave with the perfect gift, beautifully wrapped and topped with gigantic colorful bow.

Having a “real” toy store in the neighborhood is such a treat.

The magic of the overhead circling train never escapes me. And right there in the middle of the store, a tree. Just the type of fun you expect from a place that caters to the imagination.

I’ve always liked shopping at Be Beep, but the past few years I‘ve grown to love it.

You have a nice staff that’s quick to offer assistance. Your merchandise is thoughtfully chosen and of the highest quality. You blend award-winning educational fun to help kids develop useful skills with the pure fun of a pack of stick-on moustaches that cultivate a sense of humor.

Like the blue box of Tiffany, the bright bow of Be Beep is a sign of a wonderful gift.

I love giving gifts from a toy store that stocks its shelves so lovingly.

 

Sincerely,

Julie Turner

 

The Thank You Project is a yearlong Wordsmith letter writing and blog project. I’m recognizing and thanking people who enrich my life and make my community an even better place to live.

 

Charlotte Berry

The Thank You Project

 

 

Dear Charlotte,

You don’t know this but you are one of the inspirations for this great little adventure I have undertaken: The Thank You Project.

I have been fortunate enough to see the amazing philanthropic work you have done in two communities — here in Columbia and in Asheville, NC, where I worked for United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.

Throughout your life you’ve so quietly made so much good possible. I’d always admired that and vowed one day to thank you for it. It didn’t matter that you didn’t know who I was. I hoped in some way my saying thank you would help you know the profound ways you have impacted others’ lives.

I clearly remember sitting in a restaurant on the coast a few years ago — during a lingering weekend dinner. And who should sit at the table next to us? You! A perfect opportunity to thank you, right there just an elbow away. And what did I do? Completely chickened out.

That night, I felt silly. I couldn’t believe I missed the opportunity to do something I’d thought about for years: simply say thank you. I vowed to never make that mistake again and last year I made good on that promise.

Finally meeting you in person and finally seizing the opportunity to tell you thank you felt so wonderful. I’ve carried that meeting in my heart and since then have carefully taken more time to thank the many people who work so hard to bring good into others’ lives.

I continue to admire the amazing gift that is your support, spirit and empowerment. You teach the value of community, and add so much grace to ours.

Thank you, again.

 

Sincerely,

Julie Turner


The Thank You Project is a yearlong Wordsmith letter writing and blog project. I’m recognizing and thanking people who enrich my life and make my community an even better place to live.

Melrose Park Volunteers

The Thank You Project

 

 

Dear Melrose Park Volunteers,

It’s not often you go to a public park and see beautiful, well-tended vegetable gardens and lush planted beds. I can remember only one time that’s happened to me. The first time my children and I ventured to Melrose Park.

For a few years, Melrose has been our favorite park. It’s not close to home so when we find ourselves downtown, we pop by because we enjoy it so much.

We enjoyed a visit late last Friday afternoon and I saw someone there quietly watering the gardens. Ian indulged my questions about the vegetables, about the park and about how it manages to be so pretty all the time. One conversation gave me all the answers.

Melrose Park has the love of a dedicated group of citizen volunteers.

The park is so well kept because the plants get after-hours grooming, attention and expertise. There are regularly tended city-built community gardens where children can learn how to plant vegetables, see them grow and later enjoy them. The child-sized picnic table and cooling ceiling fan welcome groups of all ages and encourage neighborhood and family gatherings.

I know there must be painfully frustrating times. I can hardly fathom seeing someone litter or treat the park disrespectfully. On the other hand, this family — and many other families I have spoken to at the park — always notice all the work that’s made it such a beautiful retreat. Your community is lucky to have such a gift.

Thank you for making Melrose Park such a shining example of what a community can and will do for a public property. It’s heartening and very much appreciated.

 

Sincerely,

Julie Turner

 

The Thank You Project is a yearlong Wordsmith letter writing and blog project. I’m recognizing and thanking people who enrich my life and make my community an even better place to live.

Christian Thee

The Thank You Project

 

 

Dear Christian,

When I saw your studio was taking part in the Open Studios weekend, I was thrilled. I have admired your work for some time. I knew seeing your home would be a treat.

I remember the first time I learned of your incredible talent. Ten years ago, I was designing a brochure that included a photo of a wooden table that was part of one of your local commissions. I’d never heard of trompe l’oeil, but I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. It was art, but so different than anything I’d ever experienced. It had pieces and secrets. You could look at it for hours and later see something completely new — an unexpected layer you had to look deeply to see or, my favorite, a near-secret flash of whimsy.

I remember the second time I came across your work, too, inside St. Peters Catholic Church. When my husband and I were married there, one of my favorite memories was showing my young nephew the tiny green lizard that lives there.

To be able to study your intricate stage models, memories and magic memorabilia in person this weekend was a few hours I will forever cherish. You have brought so much to our community. Not just in your work on behalf of the arts community and Bruce’s efforts to bring new life to the old Fox Theatre, but for the sheer magic and boundless creativity you so thoughtfully breathe into everyday life.

There was much I wanted to say to you last Saturday. I loved experiencing your home’s secrets. Being able to closely study at all the history, that teeny-tiny rollercoaster, the green fairy, delicate bird’s nest, sumptuous details and the photos of your love’s megawatt smile.

Thank you for the beautiful reminders that curiosity is something to be rewarded.

Sincerely,

 

Julie Turner

P.S. — I knew I couldn’t pick up the house key, but I tried anyway.

 

The Thank You Project is a yearlong Wordsmith letter writing and blog project. I’m recognizing and thanking people who enrich my life and make my community an even better place to live.