Organized by Midland’s Open Door, volunteers spread cheer


“Hidey-ho, neighbors!”

The friendly greeting boomed out to employees at the United Way building in downtown Midland Monday morning as Midland Neighboring Week began.

In this case, the character Wilson — from the 1990s TV sitcom “Home Improvement” — was actually Memorial Presbyterian Church Associate Pastor Wally Mayton.

Wearing Wilson’s trademark fishing hat (and a more contemporary bright red face mask) and carrying a small section of gray fence in front of him, Mayton greeted staff with the quip, “Have fence, will travel” and added, “I’m here to share my wisdom!”

The pastor said he “loves” the United Way and told staff, “We want to thank you for all that you do!”

The visit was the kickoff of a “neighboring blitz” organized by Midland’s Open Door, the faith-based charity that has been providing food, shelter and clothing to the needy for more than 40 years.

Mayton was accompanied by Open Door Director Renee Pettinger and Ministry Support Coordinator Meredith Sweet, who brought coffee donated by Live Oak Coffeehouse and scones and ginger cookies baked by volunteers.

Pettinger told United Way staff that the Open Door wanted to bless them and thank them for their work in the community.

The trio then traveled to Midland Area Community Foundation offices at Ashman Circle for another friendly visit.

“When neighbors visit, you drop everything,” Mayton told MACF President and CEO Sharon Mortensen as she called surprised staff members to the organization’s lobby.

“On this rainy day, we’re passing out comfort and greetings to our neighbors,” the pastor said.

MACF staff posed with the Open Door team for a group photo, and Mortensen said the foundation will host its own Midland Neighboring Week event on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The visits were devised as a way to celebrate and thank public servants, social service organizations and others after working together to deal with the coronavirus and the flood, Pettinger said.

“During a year of multiple challenges in our community, we wanted to highlight some of the incredible work and collaboration of our neighbors and have some fun doing it,” she said.

Pettinger said Open Door will continue its neighborly visits through the week, with a different community leader playing the part of Wilson each day. Other stops will include the Midland County Health Department, the Emergency Management Office, Home to Stay: Housing Assistance Center, Caregiving Network and Midland Community Former Offenders Advocacy and Rehabilitation, as well as neighbors of Open Door’s main campus location, ITH Staffing and Bone and Bailey.

By ev3v4hn