DELMAR — A local mother and daughter are designing inspirational messages on people’s driveways across town for free to uplift neighbors amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since Saturday, March 21, Meika Loe and her 12-year-old daughter Levi Loe-Alinger, a Bethlehem Central Middle School seventh-grader, designed 11 driveways, chalking short and sweet messages like “You Are Loved,” “Keep Your Chin Up” and “Life is Beautiful.” The messages are also often accompanied by bright drawings of flowers, the sun and smiley faces. Meika and Levi said they always practice social distancing by staying six feet apart as a precaution while decorating the driveways too.
The two acknowledged that as people are encouraged to stay indoors during the pandemic, their project is an opportunity to spread neighborly acts of kindness without compromising anyone’s health. “It’s been sort of therapeutic and it’s helpful to people stuck at home in the neighborhoods,” Meika said. “It’s important to help ground ourselves during this difficult time.”
When asked what inspired them, Levi said, “One day, it was warm and we went outside and we drew a positive message on our driveway. Some people walked by and really liked it and that’s when we thought of making messages on other people’s driveways too.”
This led them to post on a Capital District-oriented NextDoor group, an online hub where neighbors, local businesses and communities connect, on Sunday, March 15 to “see if anyone is interested in having a chalk-drawn message that’s inspirational on their driveway,” said Meika. “We said we’re a mother-daughter team and we’d be happy to do that. We then got at least 10 responses.”
An interested resident would give them their house address. If the address is near the Loes’ home, Levi would go design the driveway with her friend and neighbor, Kara Leonard. They would still practice social distancing like walking on opposite sides of a street and staying 6 feet apart while designing the driveway, Meika said. If the address is not near, Meika would drive there with her daughter and they would design the driveway.
They look to design interested people’s driveways on any sunny weekend “and we’ll do it as long as there are requests,” Meika said. The chalk would wash away if it rains or snows though.
The two said they enjoy getting to brighten neighbors’ days with art. “Each request comes with a story,” Meika said. “One was immunocompromised in Selkirk who couldn’t go out but said she’d like to see something nice from out the window. Someone else lived near the Normanside Country Club who said she was housebound, an artist and a musician looking to support other artists and be inspired.”
She continued, “I’m guessing word got out over time and we still get requests today, mostly from people we don’t even know. We try to make different messages for each location too.”
They have noticed that impressed neighbors want to tip or give them something in return, which they appreciate but decline.”It’s already a gift to be able to do this for them,” Meika said. “We want to keep people feeling positive and inspired during this challenging time. It’s good to have a project to work on that gives us a bit of a routine and it’s something we look forward to.”
Levi said it has been fun working with her mother and the artful driveway messages are their way of “giving the gift of drawing to the house’s owner who then gives that gift to people walking by.”
If anyone is interested in having their driveway designed with a chalked message, contact Meika at [email protected]