By Keith Skenandore
Seymour resident Bonnie Neshek has taken it upon herself to provide her employer 150 reusable masks for all employees to assist with their safety during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Neshek, a purchasing agent for the Green Bay-based company, Wisconsin Plastics, Inc. (WPI), took it upon herself to make the masks when she couldn’t find any to purchase for the company.
“As the purchasing agent, I could not find the masks when I first started (to search),” said Pleshek, a 20-year employee of the company.
So with the company in a bind, Neshek said the human resources (HR) department approached her and asked if she could make the masks.
“I love to sew,” she said so her answer was a no-brainer. “I said sure.”
Mike Kilgore, vice-president of marketing and design for WPI, was not surprised that the company had to turn to Neshek for masks.
“We’re a manufacturer and we are finding it difficult to find a lot of different products that we would need to sometime do our daily work,” he said.
Neshek did some research and found a pattern that works to fit everybody. The only thing she needs to change is the elastic on the back for the proper length.
This isn’t just your ordinary mask. Neshek also was able to apply the necessary N95 filter.
“I had 3 and a half inch round filters that, if I made them (masks) with a pocket, the filter could be put inside,” Neshek said.
Kilgore said it’s great to see Neshek assist the company and their employees in their time of need.
“It’s great having an employee like Bonnie to step up and volunteer her time to do this and create masks,” Kilgore said, “and to add value to the company by giving the employees the opportunity to have a mask.”
He wasn’t at all surprised that Neshek stepped up and provided masks for employees and their families.
“She’s been able to step up because she has the ability to make masks like that,” Kilgore said. “She’s a very crafty person in general. She knows a lot and does a lot of that kind of stuff.”
On the Wisconsin Plastics facebook page, Neshek was recognized as an employee who truly embodies WPI’s core mission and values.
“As an employee, Bonnie Neshek took the initiative to go above and beyond to keep the WPI team safe and healthy during this pandemic,” read the post. “We could not be more thankful for Bonnie and her selfless work in helping to keep WPI a safe and healthy workplace!”
Despite HR offering to pay for supplies, Neshek, 66, declined their offer and started putting the pedal to the metal at her sewing machine.
As for the supplies, she said being a quilter, she knew she would have the material for the masks.
“Quilters save their scraps,” Neshek said. “Quilters don’t throw their material away.
“So that’s what I made the masks out of.”
Slowly but surely she would crank out masks so eventually all 150 employees received one.
“I love the company I work for and the people that are there,” said Neshek. “It’s like a close-knit family and I just want to make sure that everybody stays safe and can go home to their families safe.”
Besides making masks for her family and Wisconsin Plastics, she now is making masks for the company’s families as they are in need to wear for their employers.
“She’s using her abilities to be a great and crafty person and help families in need,” Kilgore said.
Neshek said the need just keeps growing.
“I’m making more tonight,” Neshek said. “I probably have made between 200 to 225 masks.
“And now that more people know it, they are calling me and asking me if I would make them some.”
As the surplus has grown, people are now supplying material to help her out as she cranks out about 10 per night.
She said her production number got better due to the repetition of the seams and sewing, plus the cutting of elastic.
“Once you get your pattern you get faster at it,” said Neshek. “I now can make 10 of them per night.”
She said Wisconsin Plastics cares about their employees as they have all three shifts sanitize the machines and assembly lines prior to the start of their shift.
“They have done everything they can to keep their employees safe,” Neshek said. “They’re a really good company and I’ve worked with these people for a long time.
“I just wish everybody would wear them when they go out and stay at a safe distance and protect themselves.”