Twice a week, you will find Helen Kupka collecting trash left by beach-goers at Silver Strand State Beach. “I had always haphazardly picked up trash but didn’t become serious about it until I was inspired by Emerald Keepers,” explained Helen. “I asked myself, ‘What am I doing?’ Part of my week should include at least two beach clean-ups. It should be part of what I do because I live here and it all matters to me.”
Helen Kupka and her husband, Sig, moved to the Coronado Cays ten years ago. Helen is no stranger to community service; she is currently the Chairperson for the Coronado Cultural Arts Commission. When she first arrived in Coronado, she tutored at the Monarch School, a school for homeless students. She also helped with Just in Time for Foster Youth when the organization was just beginning to grow. Knowing she was here to stay, Helen joined the Cays Homeowners Association (HOA) Board in 2013. The first year, she focused on learning the ropes. She then served as Vice President the next year and President for the following two years. When the Coronado Cays HOA Board unanimously determined it was time for a change in leadership, Helen agreed to stand in as General Manager while the Board searched for a replacement. The search took over 10 months. Because Kupka served in the position for free, it helped balance the budget for the Cays. “I learned so much,” said Kupka, “and found it to a growth experience.” Kupka also served as a project manager for the improvement of Montego Village.
When Helen and Sig recently remodeled their home, they took extra care to be Emerald Green, Ocean Blue – homeowners that make sustainable choices to reduce their carbon footprint. Some of the environmentally friendly features they incorporated include building up the lot three feet to protect against sea level, installation of solar energy, a whole house water filtration to avoid buying water in plastic bottles, installing smart technology to control LED lighting, electrical consumption and hot water generation / circulation, as well as modular HVAC heat pump systems to heat and cool only the areas of the house that are in use. Making their home more eco-friendly is another way in which the Kupkas contribute to protecting the environment and preserving the beautiful vistas they share every day.
The morning Emerald Keepers took her picture picking up trash at the State Beach, Helen was surprised by the enormous amount of trash left behind. Her bag was bulging with aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and plastic food wrappers. She told the story about three young men who saw her collecting trash. They ran up to her and asked if she could take their empty beer cans. They had a good laugh when Helen directed them to the recycle bin directly behind them.
On a more serious note, Helen said, “For a long time we have needed a group to focus on both the bay and ocean. It made no sense there wasn’t one. Filling a need that perhaps no one recognized is important. With the uptick in the pollution in the Cays channels, it is more important than ever.” As for picking up trash? She answered, “It is something everyone should do!”
Thank you, Helen Kupka, for being our August Emerald Keeper of the Month!
Want to get involved? Take part in Can the Trash Sept. 7-21, 2020.