The Gratitude Project — Letters to Those We Appreciate

Nov 18, 2021 | Holiday Celebrations, Living, Thanksgiving

Who are you grateful for? Take time to give thanks to the people who’ve brightened your life. You can find some inspiration from these four women whose letters of gratitude will move you into action.

Laura Shine, Assistant Program Director/Afternoon Host/Producer of Live Lunch, WFPK.

Laura’s gratitude letter to her wife Teresa Willis.

Dear Teresa,

I’m grateful for you every single day – and I have been for 10 years. You have helped me and my family many times and with loving care. I can’t begin to thank you enough. You helped care for my sister Sara who was diagnosed with biliary cancer in October of 2010. Sara passed away the following year, and you helped me plan what we call a “Sarabration” a few months later. We became very close in these raw and sad circumstances. You also helped me countless times with my mom who developed dementia. I fell in love with your heart and capacity to give of yourself. I married you in 2015 as soon as the law allowed. You are the best thing that ever happened to me. I am beyond blessed and grateful for your love, friendship and presence in my life.

LOVE,
LAURA

Evon Smith, President and CEO, OneWest

Evon’s gratitude letter to Julie Lavalle Jones.

DEAR JULIE,

When we began working together at the Self-Help Credit Union in Durham, North Carolina, I admired your ability to listen and ask provocative questions that made everyone think. You also became my mentor. I was president of a nonprofit community development corporation in Henderson, N.C., where we built 17 units of single-family housing and rehabbed an old JCPenny building. You helped me through the contract negotiations.

While working as a community development non-profit president in Winston-Salem, I can remember talking to a national developer and you being the one who made sure we negotiated the best deal for the community-based non-profit. You would drive to Winston-Salem from Durham, N.C., to meet with me and get the details of the project finance and the logistics of development. You made sure I knew my own numbers on a project before discussing them with bankers and other developers. Your diligence made me a better developer and allowed me to help communities across the state.   

You empowered me by teaching me to fish! You love and empower people all over this world and only God would make you the only person I knew when I moved to Louisville. What a jewel you are and a great person to know!  Louisville may love you as the developer of Whiskey Row, but I have 20 years of gratefulness to you for enriching my life and those of the communities I have been able to serve.

THANK YOU,
EVON

Carolyn Tandy SVP, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Humana, Inc.

Carolyn’s gratitude letter to her mom Hermione Whitaker.

DEAR MOMMY,

Every day I am grateful for you and the many sacrifices you have made for me.

Born in Jamaica, Queen Hermione, you made the name famous way before Harry Potter ever could. Your gift was in athletics. Drafted to play on Jamaica’s first national netball team, the sport would take you around the world in competition. Somewhere along the way you gave up your hoop dreams to marry and have two children. Nothing, however, could have prepared you for the early death of your son or the divorce to follow, but through your challenges, I learned lessons in selflessness and courage.

As a young girl, I remember watching you sacrifice: cleaning houses and nannying to scrape up just enough money to take care of the two of us. You put me through private school, countless dance lessons, private tutors and anything else I needed for my future success. There is absolutely nothing in this world I am afraid of because I know my mom has survived worse with her head held high and a wide smile on her face.

You have instilled in me confidence, faith and generosity. You were the first person to tell me to celebrate my beautiful self, to love the skin I’m in and to never let anyone dim my light. Thank you for being a beautiful example of womanhood and my example of how to raise my own children.

Thank you for everything you are and everything you have inspired me to be. I am forever grateful!

LOVE,
CAROLYN

Mimi Hwang, commercial/residential real estate agent, co-founder of Mobile MD, Operations Manager, Hwang’s Martial Arts

Mimi’s gratitude letter to her parents Sun and Jung Hwang.

DEAR MOM AND DAD,

When I was in middle and high school, I was a wild child. I thought I knew everything and hated all the restrictions you and Dad put on me. But those life lessons I thought I didn’t need to learn or would never use again, are now ingrained into my everyday life. I am so grateful. You have always supported my non-traditional ways. As much as you and Dad tried to contain this energy inside of me, you always knew I did not fit the traditional mold. You accepted me, you supported me, you told me it was OK. Some of the most important lessons from you and Dad are no matter how hard things get, ignore the noise, and keep doing what you love and work hard at it. What I want to instill most in my own children is how important it is to have a great work ethic. I owe it all to you for teaching me that. You and Dad are my greatest role models.

LOVE,
MIMI

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