East Bay mother, daughter spread messages of hope and love in unique way

A mother and daughter in the East Bay have been sharing messages of hope to neighbors and strangers in a creative way: painting them on their garage door for almost two years.

They said it's a way to help themselves cope with the pandemic while helping others.

The garage door on their Walnut Creek home is the canvas for messages of hope, love, and gratitude from Mindy Ellison and her daughter Audrey. It started early in the pandemic in April 2020.

"We were terrified as everybody else was. We wanted to do something positive, not only to make ourselves feel better but maybe make somebody else feel better," Mindy said she and her daughter saw the garage door as an obvious palette.

"I had lost my job. I didn't have school going on. I didn't know what the future looked like," said Audrey, a college student.

In the midst of fear that uncertainty brings, they created their first painting thanking essential workers.

"We just kept going every Wednesday on my day off," said Mindy.

That led to them painting a new message once a week. Now, they're on their 90th. The source of inspiration varies. Some images and sayings are original, others inspired by famous quotes and people.

"Some days, we would really be upset about something, about what was going on in the world. We didn't have an outlet, a proper outlet, so let's just put it on the door and see if anyone else feels the same way, said Tanner.

On this day, mother and daughter met for the first time a neighbor who has been reading the messages on their garage door for more than a year while she took her daily walks with her dog.

Deanna Tanner gifted mother and daughter a book with photos of her dog and the garage door.

"I'm a single person living by myself so just walking by here helped bring me joy," said Tanner.

Mindy and Audrey have posted photos of their garage door on social media.

"We never thought we'd reach people beyond our street. Now, it's a nationwide thing. We have followers in England and Australia," said Audrey.

They say they've received gifts and notes of support. Audrey read an excerpt from one, "Thanks for being a voice of light in the community and beyond."

Among their favorites: a quote from Jimi Hendrix, save USPS, and all you need is love.

A bond formed between neighbors and strangers through the power of words and images.

"They're looking for that human connection. We can make a bridge with that," said Audrey.

"I want them to be happy. I want them to be hopeful. I want them to know that they're not the only ones struggling," said Mindy.

Mother and daughter said at this point, they don't know when they'll stop. But they said they already have plans for what they'd like to paint for the week of Valentine's Day.

More photos of their work can be seen on Instagram under the hashtag garagedoorwc.