Respeta tu Playa joins Keep SPI Beautiful for future collaborations

Special to the PRESS

February 19, 2015

The Keep SPI Beautiful (KSPIB) committee recently made efforts to seek out like minded groups for collaboration on events or projects to benefit the community. At last Thursday’s regular meeting, the committee was joined by local group Respeta tu Playa whose mission is to conduct beach cleanups and educate the public on the importance of keeping local beaches litter-free.

The group was the first of many to join efforts with KSPIB in talks of potential collaborations in the future. The Respeta Group was founded about four years ago by Yolanda and Walter Birdwell along with Madeline Sandafer. It is a small group of about 15 people representing five different nations. Many of its members did not grow up in the area but have made a commitment to educate the population specifically to help marine life by keeping beaches litter free. The group has partnered with others for many events, most recently the beach cleanup on Jan. 17 that drew over 160 participants who cleaned approximately 4.5 miles of beach on the north end of the Island. Sandafer shared one of her philosophies saying, “If people see something that they can be proud of, that inspires them to do better.” Yolanda Birdwell added that when educating the public, it always helps to do it with a smile.

Environmental Health Director Victor Baldovinos, shared some updates with the committee on projects that are being done through the City’s Environmental Health Services Department (EHSD). Some initiatives supported by the EHSD include Adopt-A-Beach, Adopt-A-Block, the Anti-Litter Beach Program, Arbor and Earth Day events and recycling. The City currently accepts plastics categorized as a “1” or “2” as well as tin and aluminum but does not accept glass because of the lack of a vendor to accept it. The I Love SPI campaign was completed on Saturday, and the department is spraying for mosquitoes daily. Baldovinos was also happy to announce that a grant request was submitted for the Governor’s Community Achievement Award.

In the coming months, KSPIB plans to begin work with Sea Turtle, Inc., the City’s Parks, Recreation, and Beautification Committee, and the Surf Rider Foundation, with member Rob Nixon scheduled to give a presentation at the next meeting. Excited about future collaborations, Chairman Susan Dalton said, “We need to be promoting them and helping them as much as we need them to be a part of us.” Baldovinos agreed saying, “We’ve tried it alone. It works a little bit, but it works a lot better when it’s all together.”

Coming up on the event calendar for KSPIB is a the Adopt-A-Beach Cleanup on April 25 followed by the Great American Trash-Off at Beach Access 11 on May 9 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

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