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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.

Richard

 

 

Dear Richard,

A little over a year ago, my dear friends’ dog Elsa went missing. Today, it’s hard to believe she was only gone a week. At the time, each day dragged on like a month.

I remember little about that week. There were cold, rainy days that deepened the heartache. I remember driving for hours hoping for a glimpse of her bright yellow fur. I remember so many friends searching, putting up posters, sharing news on social media, even through they didn’t know Elsa’s family.

I remember the first pangs of resignation creeping in as days turned into a week.

While there is much I cannot recall, some moments are seared in my memory. I was eating lunch when I got the call that Elsa had been found. I remember being consumed by the need to see her. I had to see her to believe it could even possible.

As I barreled into the exam room, blinded by tears, Elsa launched at me from the floor. She was the happiest dog I’ve ever seen. The most beautiful, wiggliest, ecstatic animal imaginable. Minutes later, my friend and her daughter ran into the room. Her sweet young daughter dropped to the floor and buried her face in Elsa’s coat. The sound that came from her daughter was like nothing I’ve ever heard. Released anguish. Pure joy. Delirious relief. It rings in my ears even today. Seeing Elsa reunited with her family was an amazing, precious gift.

I will never forget how you took time to care. To coax Elsa over. To see if she had a collar and ID tag. Your efforts got Elsa back to her loving home, family and friends.

Every time I see Elsa, I think of what you did and I am grateful. You made every moment I have with Elsa possible.

Thank you for your extraordinary kindness.

 

Sincerely,

Julie Turner

The Thank You Project is a yearlong Wordsmith blog project recognizing people who need to be thanked more often for their many contributions to our lives and communities. 

Emile

Some weeks there’s no question who will get the Thank You Project letter. Other weeks I swim around a short list until something out of the blue hijacks the letter and steals it for itself. That’s what happened this weekend. While I’ve been to the All Local Farmers’ Market many times, I gained a new appreciation for it on Saturday. The market is much more than a place to buy food. It’s a place that could and should change how you think about food and eating. Someday I will stay long enough to enjoy one of Kristian’s yummy Rosso breakfasts and toast Emile, hopefully over some of his amazing Caw Caw Creek Farm bacon.

Dear Emile,

My name is Julie Turner and I am a writer on a yearlong quest called The Thank You Project. Once a week for the next year, I am thanking someone who quietly makes my life or my community better.

When I arrived at the All Local Farmers’ Market this past weekend, I immediately knew you would get this week’s letter.

Saturday morning was cold and dreary. As my children and I rounded the corner of 701 Whaley, the sheer beauty of the market stopped me in my tracks. I could practically feel the warmth of the soft cheerful globes of light all the way out on Whaley Street. Finally making my way inside, I passed by tables of locals chattering and lingering over breakfast and was jealous until I got inside. My basket was quickly full with several types of homemade biscuits, a bag of curly City Roots spinach, fresh dill, some pre-made BLT dip and a hearty enchilada casserole that saved dinner at my house last night.

As I drove back home that morning, I found myself admiring my bounty. It was all beautiful, fresh food I would be thrilled to serve to my family and friends. I wish I could say that about more of my food and meals.

I am so grateful to have this type of market in Columbia. It’s a place to share, learn and gather as well as buy fantastic local food and goods. Thank you for the years of effort you and others put forth to make such a place possible.

Your inspiration and dedication changed the Columbia landscape in a very tangible and meaningful way for so many people. You made Columbia a better place.

Thank you for such an incredible gift to our city.

Sincerely,

Julie Turner

 

The Thank You Project is a yearlong Wordsmith blog project recognizing people who need to be thanked more often for their many contributions to our lives and communities. 

Kim

 

About three years ago, long before this Thank You Project was born, I had a four month old baby and more than fourteen pounds of leftover baby weight. Actually, it was way, way more than that. As January and the time for New Year’s resolutions came, I vowed to lose it and chose Weight Watchers as my vehicle. The closest meeting to work back then was downtown on Sumter Street so I chose that. I had no clue Kim was waiting there for me.

 

Dear Weight Watchers,

My name is Julie Turner and I am a writer on a yearlong quest called The Thank You Project. Once a week for the next year, I am thanking someone who quietly makes my life or my community better.

This letter is to someone who didn’t quietly change my life. She did it loudly.

When I first met Columbia Weight Watchers group leader Kim McElroy, I was an exhausted, nearly-middle-aged mother of two with lingering baby weight and serious love of General Tso’s. I went to my first meeting with the goal of losing 25 pounds. I had no idea I’d learn things that would change how I live and eat forever.

Kim is an incredible leader. She inspires you throughout your day-to-day life not just in your weight loss journey. She’s just the right mix of vivacious and fun with heaping sides of accountability and stick-to-itiveness. More than not letting you quit, she leads and teaches in a way that seems to eliminate quitting as an option.

Thanks to Kim I quickly gained the tools to shed the excess weight. Even better she taught me how to keep the weight off for good. Believe me, I’ve put this education to use plenty of times since I met my weight loss goal a few years ago.

Kim always says of Weight Watchers: “It works if you work it.” She’s right. But with an incredible leader like Kim in the equation, it works on a more powerful level.

Kim didn’t work to change my old habits. She instilled in me the courage, motivation and desire to develop my own new, healthier habits.

She’s an amazing asset to your program and lifelong ally to me. Thank you for bringing her into my life.

 

Sincerely,

Julie Turner

 

The Thank You Project is a yearlong Wordsmith blog project recognizing people who need to be thanked more often for their many contributions to our lives and communities. 

Layla

 

As we entered the Longhorn Steakhouse Sunday night my thoughts were nowhere near customer service or the Thank You Project. Mainly I wanted to get us and the kids fed and finished quickly before Matchbox cars started flying across the restaurant. It had been a long day and could have been a long, very unrelaxing meal with two tired, silly kids. It turned out to be a better meal because of one very nice server: Layla.

 

Dear Decker Boulevard Longhorn Steakhouse Manager,

My name is Julie Turner and I am a writer on a yearlong quest called The Thank You Project. Once a week for the next year, I am thanking someone who quietly makes my life or community better. I had a plan for this week’s letter but it changed when my family dined at your restaurant this past weekend.

We were lucky to have one of the best servers I have ever had in my life: Layla.

Usually when you go to a restaurant, the servers are nice. Of course they are. It’s how they earn their living. Your employee Layla took nice to an entirely different level. One you don’t see very often in a bustling restaurant during the dinner rush.

Layla was sensitive we waited even though it was just a few moments after we were seated. She talked and joked with our two young children as we went through the chaos of ordering. She spent time talking to us and provided many options. As our meal went on, she checked on us just as much as we needed.

While it may not seem like much, it was how Layla took care of my family that was striking. She was kind and patient, which anyone who dines with kids can appreciate. But beyond simple kindness, Layla was sincere. She was truly interested in us and wanted us to have only the best experience in your restaurant.

Those are special qualities in any employee whatever your business or profession.

I wanted you to know our experience at your restaurant was just fine. But our experience with Layla left an even greater impression. She is an incredible asset to your staff.
Sincerely,

Julie Turner


The Thank You Project is a yearlong Wordsmith blog project recognizing people who need to be thanked more often for their many contributions to our lives and communities. 

George Family

 

This week’s Thank You Project letter is true to the holiday season. The Turners love holiday lights. We seek and enjoy the bright joyful displays you only get to see one month of the year. There are many houses in Forest Acres with a strand here, a balloon there. Then there are our favorite houses which never disappoint us year after year.

 

Dear George Family,

My name is Julie Turner and I am a writer here in Columbia. I have embarked on a yearlong quest called The Thank You Project. Once a week for the next year, I am sending a much deserved thank you note to someone who has touched my life.

I know you don’t know who I am so bear with me.

I live in your neighborhood and have for the past eight years. I’m not sure exactly when we discovered your home’s Christmas lights but every year we wait for the day when your decorations are up and aglow. It’s a pretty amazing sight for anyone to behold but I have two young boys who love to drive by your house and see all of the holiday lights and balloons. They “oooh” and “ahh” the entire way around the corner and hate when someone drives up behind us pushing us along way before we are ready.

I’m sure it takes a good deal of work for you to put all of the decorations up every year. I want you to know what joy your effort brings to my family and me each holiday season. For us, seeing your house decorated, finally means the real Christmas season is underway.

Thank you for the joy you bring to our community. It’s part of what makes Forest Acres such a special place.

Happy holidays to you and your family!
Sincerely,

Julie Turner

 

The Thank You Project is a yearlong Wordsmith blog project recognizing people who need to be thanked more often for their many contributions to our lives and communities. 

Jason

 

 

The first letter of the Thank You Project went to Philips Motor Company, a Columbia auto dealer and repair shop. Their service manager inspired this yearlong project, which recognizes people who need to be thanked more often for their many contributions to our lives and communities. Thanks, Jason!

 

Dear Philips,

I have been a customer for many years and a few different cars. One reason we prefer you for automotive work is your great employees. Recently, I was so impressed with Jason, the service manager, I started a yearlong blog project thanking the people who brighten my days and life.

Jason is so knowledgeable and friendly. When I see him, he never seems rushed or dismissive of me, which can easily happen to a woman at a garage. Jason is genuinely nice and takes care of his customers in every way. He calls if he says he’s going to call. He lets you know immediately if there is a part supply issue or some reason your car may need to stay an extra day. He smiles and speaks with meaning. He explains things clearly and wants to be sure you have all the answers you want.

He treats your customers like family no matter how busy he or the garage is that day.

Congratulations! You have a great ambassador for your company and I wanted to be sure you know that.

Many thanks,

Julie Turner

 

PS: I would be very remiss to not thank you for Sherman, too. He knows our cars so well and has helped us as well. There aren’t very many garages where you know a brand specialist is working on your car!

The cane squeezing.

It’s pretty rare to have an opportunity to do something you’ve never done and a Saturday with no plans. That’s just what happened to us on Saturday. There was no soccer, no to-do list, no house project. Just an invitation to join friends at a cane squeezing at Hatiola Hunt Club somewhere deep in Barnwell County.

What’s a cane squeezing you ask? No need to be embarrassed. I didn’t know what it was either. So I googled it and found this.

Armed with some background and the invitation from friend and hunt club member, Andy Riley, we were off. It was just about an hour or so from home, but you’d think we were hours away. The kids marveled at horses and cows. And noticed there were very few houses. But one of the most interesting sights on the drive was the cotton.

We passed field after field. Pure white soft puffs looking oddly out of place on dead-looking twigs. We were even thrilled to catch a glimpse of cotton being harvested. I could have watched that for hours, I think. Ready-to-harvest fields, old machinery, endless rows of cotton. So un-digital. So un-modern. So wonderful.

When we arrived at Hatiola, an old homestead/hunt club/setting for grown men to tell their tall tales and cook to their hearts’ content, we saw the draft horses turning the ancient press. Inside the horse’s path, one person pushed stalks of sugar cane between two giant wheels. As the horse slowly ambled around the circle, all the sugar was pressed from the stalk leaving behind a stringy snake-skin looking husk.

I asked Andy what they did with the liquid since it all seemed so purposeful and important. He laughed and said they’d tried to make syrup, then rum. Now they just try to give it away.

It was a perfect southern Saturday. The sun was warm even though the wind had a bite. The whole day yawned before us. The Gamecocks hadn’t yet lost to Arkansas. A live bluegrass band, The Blue Iguanas, provided the perfect soundtrack.

After a few announcements, lunch was served. We wound our way up the rickety front steps and were asked to sign the official register. Based on the number of pages already signed, generations of friends and family have enjoyed the cane squeezing before us. Then we saw lunch. In the hallway on table after table, lay every variation of every Sunday casserole you could ever imagine. Andy had already assured us the main course was the best “effa’” chicken bog. I assure you, he is right.

We loaded up our plates and headed back out to enjoy lunch al fresco while shooing off a flock of very well behaved hunting dogs and the yellow jackets who by now had figured out there was good stuff to be had.

Later, we enjoyed a ride through the property in the back of Andy’s pick up truck. We stopped twice. Once so the kids could climb all over Andy’s deer stand or “treehouse” as they dubbed it. Then again a bit later so the kids could take a close look at the cotton and pick a puff or two to bring home as a souvenir. It was a fun, adventurous day.

Andy said we were welcome to come back next year since we didn’t do anything to get barred from the property (which has apparently happened a few times). I am so grateful. There was a whole historical discussion on the back porch I missed. There must be so much to show and tell in a house that storied. And to hear it told in person is a treasure in itself.

I started the day thinking the cane squeezing was all for show. Just something they’d always done. But later on I realized that it’s the most important part of the day.

It’s the reason for the celebration. The squeeze draws long-time friends together. It draws children, families and new friends from miles and hours away. It’s a slow kind of easy that’s absent in most of what we do today.

And to think it all came to be because we had nothing to do on a Saturday. I think we need to free more Saturdays. Days like the one we had at Hatiola Hunt Club fill in the holes left by the grind of everyday life.

Something everyone could use more of.

 

Blogging for others.

Every time I go see my dentist I say I am going to blog about them. Well, this week I finally did over on the Riggs Partners’ R-blog. Other physician practices could learn a great deal from Dr. Thomas Pitts and the Pitt Crew. They consistently have happy employees and very happy patients. They truly get something a lot of practices don’t. Read their secrets here.