Loretta Kryshak is the executive director of Rebel Reform, an offshoot of her family’s manufacturing company, Rebel Converting. Rebel Converting usually produces disinfecting wipes for hospitals. Still, when the pandemic first started to take shape, Kryshak’s son, Thaddeus, suggested using the fabric used in their wipes to produce face masks instead. Rebel started packaging mask production kits which included 700 fabric squares and 1,400 rubber bands. These kits were then given to volunteers to assemble. It takes approximately 10-15 hours to assemble all the masks in one kit; so far, about 90,000 person-hours have been volunteered to assemble 6,000 of these kits.
To help get these masks to those in need, Loretta connected with Heather Perkins from Ignite Change. Heather, in turn, was able to get the United Way involved, who then brought in the Milwaukee Bucks and Fiserv Forum. These groups helped transport these masks to where they were needed most, communities of color and the homeless.
During the #MaskUpMKE initiative, Rebel Reform and Ignite Change wanted to create and deliver nearly 3.5 million masks in the Milwaukee area. They distributed 300,000 masks to first responders and under-served communities via the Medical College of Wisconsin, 1.25 million masks via the Just One More Ministry food bank to churches, homeless shelters, and communities in need, and 100,000 masks via Milwaukee Public Transit and the Milwaukee Hop. In total, the groups passed out nearly 4 million masks through MaskUpMKE.org.
Loretta hopes to continue working on other causes as the COVID pandemic continues. She expects Rebel Reform to work with other organizations to end hunger, homelessness and help uplift those in neglected communities.