“Chalkboard Lady” Inspiring Community


Jackson Heath

Ms. Issy Powell posing with her newly drawn sign for the day

Anyone who drives through downtown Aledo sees the inspiring chalkboard messages that Ms. Issy Powell places in front of her house. She has lived in Aledo for 12 years and wrote her first message on June 9, 2010.


“Everyday. Always,” Christopher Moore, owner of Christopher Moore Salon, said. “The sign is always there.”


She first began putting the chalkboard out, not because she thought it would be fun, but because she said she was called to do it by the Lord. As she sat on her front porch every morning, she watched the faces of the people driving by heading to work and noticed that they seemed tired and dreary. She wanted to do something to make them smile on those early morning drives to work.


“I like making people happy,” Powell said. “And that is what really drives me to continue doing this every day.”

Jackson Heath
Ms. Issy Powell sketching out her message for the day.

Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays are her “Jesus” days where the messages are slightly more religious or bible-based. One of her favorites is, “We are God’s Legos” and the Friday message, “Honk for Jesus,” is always one of her favorites.


“If I see something I like, I have to write it down or I will never remember it,” Powell said. “Someone once asked me ‘What are you going to do when you run out of messages?’ I laughed and said, ‘Issy has a Bible, there are thousands of messages right there.’”


People who see the sign every day may take it for granted, not even paying attention to the new message. However, it has impacted more than one Aledo resident and they aren’t shy about sending letters or notes addressed to the “Chalkboard Lady” telling her about the change the board has inspired in their lives. Powell keeps a scrapbook filled with all the letters and notes she has received. The book is almost three inches thick, and Powell enjoys hearing about how much people love the sign.


“One day a young lady in a black car drove by my house then circled back around. This was back when the front of my house was a two-way street, and she told me that she had decided to become a lawyer,” Powell said. “But she changed her mind. After seeing the signs out everyday she decided to instead go to seminary.”


In addition to leaving the notes, people also leave gifts and little presents for Powell. One of the most popular gifts, by far, is chalk. People will leave a box of chalk on her front porch with a little note that tells her they love the sign and please don’t stop. Powell feels bad because she doesn’t use just any chalk.


“Crayola chalk is the best,” Powell said. “It is creamy and the colors stay much more vibrant all day. I place the sign out in the morning and come out that evening and the colors have faded and just aren’t as bright as they were that morning. Crayola chalk stays on the best and is easier to work with. People may make fun of me, but I also use the whole piece of chalk, down to the very smallest piece.”


Powell admittedly is a very type A person. The messages have to look a certain way, they have to be straight and if they aren’t, then the whole board gets erased and she starts over. Each new message can take anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on how creative she feels that day and how well it’s done the first time.


“The days where I put little cartoons on the board, I take inspiration from coloring books or ClipArt. I use ClipArt a lot, but it still has to look good,” Powell said. “When I look at it, if something is wrong I erase it and do it over again.”


Though everyone gives credit to her for coming up with the messages and the idea to do the sign, she gives all credit to God.


“I don’t do this. God does,” Powell said. “I am simply the person and the hand that He uses. If people take one thing out of seeing the board every day it should be that our purpose here is to do God’s work and that is what I am doing.”