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The Thank You Project

Shannon Bueker

The Thank You Project

 

 

Dear Shannon,

I own an original painting of yours and have for some time — my best guess is eight or nine years by now. It’s a lovely painting of a bunch of flying pigs I discovered at Portfolio Art Gallery in Five Points in Columbia, South Carolina.

I have no idea how you painted it, what inspired you to paint it, or when you painted it. What I do know is that the first moment I saw it; it spoke to my heart. And it has done so every day since then.

I admired it long before I owned it, in the days when I could barely make the rent and car payment. Then one day I went to see it and it was gone. Many months later I was back in the shop and asked if there might ever possibly be another one — knowing all the time the answer would be no. But the answer wasn’t no. Turns out, someone had been test-driving the painting at home and the pigs were coming back to the gallery the next day. That’s how your pigs came to roost with me.

Your painting has been a gift in my life for many years and I am so grateful to have it. It’s one of my most cherished posessions. Thank you for creating it.

Sincerely,

Julie Turner

The Thank You Project is a 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.

830 Maple Street

The Thank You Project

 

 

Dear 830 Maple-ites,

Thank you for the sweet, inspiring messages you leave every now and again on your front porch!

I often drive by your house in my quest to get from Devine Street to Millwood Avenue and back. I treasure the days I catch an inspiring message you’ve written on the small chalkboard that’s at the top of your front porch stairs. It’s usually just a few words or a simple thought but it never ceases to make me smile.

Thank you for taking the time to lift others and share an inspiring thought — even if it’s with strangers driving down your street.

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.

Susan Yelverton

The Thank You Project

 

 

Dear Susan,

Being a teacher is a remarkable path. There are some teachers, however, whose footsteps echo very differently than many of their peers.

When I attended Crayton’s Beauty and the Beast show a few weeks ago, I was there to cheer on a friend. In truth, though, I was hoping the production would spark a little creative energy inside me. An exceptionally busy winter on every front had left me a quart low.

When you snuck that white envelope into my hands, I had no clue what was inside. I should’ve known. Coming from you, the contents had to be magical.

I don’t know how you knew I needed prayer bracelets that night, but I did. Very badly. I am so grateful you took time on one of your busiest nights of the year to give me such a meaningful and much-needed gift.

It goes without saying that you’re an exceptional teacher. The few years I watched you at Satchel Ford, I saw you excite, inspire and love students like few teachers I have seen in my life. But the other night showed me you’re more than simply a good teacher — you’re an amazing person.

Thank you for the gift you are in all of our lives — both young and old-ish.

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.

Trustus Theater

The Thank You Project

 

 

Dear Jim and Kay,

When you founded Trustus Theater in 1985, I didn’t comprehend the magnitude of what you did. All these years later I see what the gift you’ve given.

You embraced risk willingly and went out on dangling limb by founding a unique theatre in what can safely be called a conservative community. You followed your dream and that risk has ensured season after season of fresh, thought-provoking theatre. You’ve given us laughter, tears, joy and music. You’ve given actors and playwrights untold opportunity.

Every production staged at Trustus gives us the chance to grow.

Today Columbia is experiencing a bit of a renaissance. I can’t help but think you two kickstarted that way back in 1985.

Thank you for your willingness to risk financial ruin. In doing so you enriched many, many lives for years to come.

 

Sincerely,

Julie Turner

The Thank You Project is a 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. It was supposed to last a year, but good will shouldn’t have an expiration date. 

The Baldauf Sisters

The Thank You Project

 

 

Dear Beth and Mary Pat,

Thank you both for all you do to make our fun, funky little community such a warm and inviting neighborhood, too.

We are blessed to have two enthusiastic people who do so much to keep residents up to date and in the know. One (or oftentimes of both of you) can be relied upon to post pictures, send lemonade stand and garage sale coordinates, volunteer for anything needed, tweet upcoming events, search for wayward pets, cheer on the troops at Fort Jackson, attend community meetings and events, or let us know when trash or recycling pick-up is out of whack.

Your willing service and enthusiasm are gifts to this community and to all of your neighbors, too. It’s clear you both love Forest Acres and all the work you do on behalf of it inspires other to care about it even more.

There are very few people I can think of who contribute so much to their community so willingly and so well. Forest Acres, in fact, shines brighter because of the both of you.

I am proud and grateful to have you as neighbors and friends.

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.

 

Richland County Public Library

The Thank You Project

 

 

Dear Richland County Public Library,

How I’ve loved you for years. As a child, I remember my mother driving me across town to the Cooper Branch on Trenholm Road – back in its days as a portable. Sure, it was small, but there were clearly enough books to spark anyone’s imagination.

Things are so very different now.

Not only do we have branches all over town, the library as a whole offers far more than books and magazines. There are children’s activities, job-seeking assistance, a media library, classes and educational opportunities, community meeting rooms and enough fun, monthly activities you could fill your calendar. And, now instead of it being my mom and me, I am the mother driving my own two children there.

Each time we step into the giant revolving door of the Cooper Branch, the same thought crosses my mind. How lucky are we? We have such a well managed, enriching free resource available to every citizen in Richland County.

The library of my childhood was a place we went to borrow books.

The Richland County Public Library of today is an entrance to so much more: other worlds, learning, global communities, research, new ways of thinking and even stress-relieving relaxation. Even all this just scratches the surface.

I am so grateful to have enjoyed so much opportunity at the hands of the Richland County Public Library. You have broadened our county — and me — in so many ways. Thank you!

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.

 

Debbie McDaniel

The Thank You Project

 

 

Dear Debbie,

Some communities flounder without leaders. For years, you have ensured Five Points isn’t one of them. I decided yesterday that if anyone epitomized the heart and soul of Five Points it’s you.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Revente and have enjoyed shopping there for years. It’s great to have such a wonderful store with so much variety and gently used affordability. In fact, your store helped shape my new clothes shopping philosophy: there are already enough awesome clothes in the world.

Thinking back, I should’ve written this letter months ago when I saw the story about the Invest in a Vest fundraiser. It was you who saw the need, rallied the troops and made something happen. And, it was all in the name of community responsibility.

But earlier this week in the dreary rain, I was once again impressed by your generosity.

On Millwood Avenue with an hour spare, I finally popped into Revente’s Last Call for my first visit. Not only did I find two new-favorite designer tops, it was gratifying to know I was shopping at a store that benefits those in need. Your support of The Women’s Shelter gives me great reason to choose your store — one that few other stores can offer.

Part of my desire to shop there and at Revente, though, is you. Just as you support others, I want you to know how much I support you.

Thank you for your generosity and community spirit. We are a better city for both.

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.

Blue Sky

The Thank You Project

 

 

Dear Blue Sky,

I grew up in Columbia and always remember part of the mandatory out-of-town guest tour was driving by your Tunnelvision mural. It was the most original thing happening downtown back in those days.

Only recently have I realized how much you’ve done (and spent, I imagine) for decades to inject bold art into the humdrum of everyday life. From the Neverbust chain to the extinct Kawasakisaurus, you have gone where few artists tread. To me, that’s the most beautiful ground of all.

I find it funny that my children associate one thing with the hospital they were both born in and it has nothing to do with the hospital. It’s Busted Plug Plaza. Ask them where they were born and they’ll tell you quickly — by the giant fire hydrant.

When I take my oldest son to Satchel Ford Elementary School in a few days, we will walk by Man Escapes and it will make me stop in my tracks as it always does. How lucky are we to have such an exceptional piece of artwork in the beigeness that is a public elementary school hallway?

I really can’t think of any place more deserving of a dose of well-placed inspiration.

Thank you for all you have done and will continue to do to broaden our minds and expand our outlook.

 

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.

Capital Karate

The Thank You Project

 

 

Dear Capital Karate,

When we brought our seven year old to the studio for a belt test early this year, I really didn’t comprehend all he’d been learning through the afterschool karate program at Satchel Ford Elementary School.

I knew he’d clearly been learning and enjoying the karate lessons. What I didn’t know about was the program’s deep integration of character building — focus, goals, leadership, honesty, confidence, safety and self-respect. I was thrilled with the physical fitness component of the classes, but to learn about the character-based education, well that just made karate even more valuable in my eyes.

Over the past few months I have really enjoyed watching him learn and grow in your studio. Your instructors — Mike, Andrew and Charlie — and the students who are learning to teach are the best mix of silliness, taskmaster and role model any parent could ask for.

Every time I hear a class recite the student creed I savor it — especially on those days when you talk about what the words really mean rather than simply letting them rush through. You are teaching behavior and building skills that will benefit our children for years to come.

I am so grateful we stumbled into such an excellent karate studio and experience for our child.

 

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.

Tony and Sonya

The Thank You Project

 

 

 

Dear United States Postal Service,

When I crept into the United States Post Office at Trenholm Plaza at five ‘o clock one Friday afternoon in June, the employees didn’t tell me they were closed and try to run me out the door. Rather, they gave me such great service and with such a winning attitude that I am writing you a letter about it weeks later.

It was closing time on a busy Friday afternoon. I was in the middle of a line of about seven last-minute customers. Tony came out to let us know they were trying to get us all taken care of as quickly as they could and to see if he could answer any questions or help anyone with forms for their letters and packages. I didn’t have to wait long but his good humor and winning attitude definitely made the time pass quickly.

The customer ahead of me in the line mentioned this was her third visit to the post office that same day. She said it had been very busy every time she came in.

I wouldn’t have ever known that looking at and listening to Sonya who was working the counter that afternoon. When I approached her she smiled like I was her first customer of the day. In her capable hands my package was off and ready to ship in no time. Then, when she thanked me for coming in, her voice wasn’t weary. Her voice told me she meant every word she said.

As I went out the door that afternoon I was so glad to have finally gotten that birthday present off my desk and into the mail. But that’s not what stuck with me. It was the exceptional customer service and professionalism of the two hard-working postal employees who were on duty that day.

Tony and Sonya are great representatives of your workforce. I wanted you to know the difference they made for me and other customers one very busy Friday afternoon in Forest Acres.

 

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.