The Thank You Project


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.



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

The Thank You Project


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!

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. 




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!

Elizabeth’s Swing

Photo by Cathy Monetti

Last week was an incredible week. I worked on location in charming Beaufort, SC. Blissful sun. Riverside dining. Stunning lowcountry locations. A fantastic Emulsion Arts crew. As much fun as I had, it was nice to come home on Friday.

My friend Cathy was kind enough to drive us down so when we got back to Lexington Friday afternoon, I was itching to hop in my car and head home to Forest Acres. And then Cathy asked me if I wanted to go see Elizabeth.

You probably don’t know this but Elizabeth is a tree. I read about Elizabeth on Cathy’s blog months ago. I was aching to meet Elizabeth. Mostly for her swing that inspired one of my favorite sentences ever.

Photo by Cathy MonettiSo off we went. Home would have to wait just a little while longer.

We moseyed across the neighbors’ yard, home of Elizabeth’s human friends, said hello to the dogs and there she was. She was just as beautiful as Cathy said. So singularly tall and graceful with thick strong roots. And there was that swing. Flat and wide with thick brown braided ropes that reached far up into the leaves.

You can’t look at a swing like that without trying it out. Well, you could just look at it but why on Earth would you? I hopped on and Cathy started to push.

Once I got going it was pure joy. No playground swing can ever compete with the long, graceful glide of that swing. It’s an entirely different level of lightness.

Contented and quiet, I swung under Elizabeth for a few more minutes, then dragged my heels to slow down. When I finally came to a stop, I sat there for a few minutes and savored the swing of that incredible swing. When I finally made my way to the car, the swing of that swing stayed with me. I was especially thankful for the inner peace Elizabeth gave because I was now tired, ready to be home and stuck in Friday afternoon downtown Lexington traffic.

Of Elizabeth, Cathy said, “The swing of that swing, it goes on forever.” She was so right. The most precious thing to me is that while the ride itself was delightful, what really sticks with you is the freedom of the slow, steady glide. It’s pure, smooth and so long you can feel it hours, days and, I bet, years after you come to a stop.

What a tremendous gift for anyone who has the privilege of meeting the tree named Elizabeth.