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Meet Justin Rudd of Community Action Team (CAT)

Today we’d like to introduce you to Justin Rudd.

Justin lived the first 26 years of his life in southeast Alabama. He was born and raised in the town of Ozark — population 13,000. He has a fraternal twin brother and three sisters. He was class president all four years of high school and got a 12-year perfect attendance award at his high school’s graduation. On a presidential scholarship, he received his business degree from Samford University — Alabama’s top-ranked private university. He was elected homecoming king, was “Brother of the Year” for Lambda Chi Alpha, and graduated as president of his senior class.

Justin moved to North Hollywood in Aug. 1995. In addition to his work in a restaurant and as a TV/movie extra, he sang for Disney at the world-premiers of “Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Mulan” and was a Dickens Caroler and sang in the “Toy Story” show at Disneyland. He also performed at the Hollywood Bowl, the Super Dome, Las Vegas, Disneyland and the historic El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. He has also been a hand double for Jim Carey.

Since arriving in Long Beach in 1997 he has dedicated his life for the good of the city. For several years he juggled a part-time public relations job, was a substitute school teacher, cleaned offices and restrooms, mowed lawns, taught group fitness classes at gyms, taught beach boot camp classes, coached pageant contestants for interviews, and organized and coordinated one successful community event after another. In 2001, he ended his part-time PR job and filed paperwork to organize his 501c3 nonprofit organization called the “Community Action Team (CAT).”

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
He doesn’t have a cell phone or a car; he hit the 5,000 friend limit on Facebook in less than a year, and he doesn’t watch TV or go to movies. He’s never had alcohol, a cup of coffee, or sushi; but is a huge fan of chocolate and chocolate chip cookies.

He has been to Africa six times (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia) to help AIDS orphans. He also visited dozens of families and photographed life in two of Nairobi’s slums.

He ran a half marathon in Kenya in 2014 and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2015. In 2013, it took him seven months to run every public street in Long Beach (1,000+ miles).

He teaches three body sculpting classes each week at the Belmont Athletic Club. and regularly attends Bay Shore Church. In January of 2017, he organized the “Compassionate Town Hall: Homelessness in Long Beach” with more than 600 attendees.

His “Riley’s Red Wagon Book Swap” is named after his late bulldog “Riley” and offers about 450 books and magazines daily. More than 30 books go out each day to kids and adults who stop by the wagon.

He created and moderates several Facebook fan pages, including:
• Long Beach, Calif., 98,800+ fans
• Belmont Shore!, 27,000+ fans
• Haute Dogs
• Rosie’s Dog Beach

He and his partner Ralph have been together for 15 years and live in Belmont Heights with their bulldog named “POTUS.” His motto is, “Life is good, and getting better!”

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Community Action Team (CAT) story. Tell us more about the business.
Some of the 60+ annual programs, contests and events he has started and continues to see succeed include:
-the Long Beach Giving Project; the monthly 30-Minute Beach Cleanups (18+ years of monthly cleanups)
-Long Beach Losers (team weight loss contest w/ 500+ contestants and approx. $40,000 jackpot)
-Operation Santa Paws (a national, holiday toy/treat collection drive for shelter pets)
-the $1,000 National Kids Spelling Bee
-the $1,000 National Adult Spelling Bee
-the Great American 4th of July Kids Bike Parade
-Red High Heels Walk
-the So Cal Halloween Kids’ Costume Contest
-the Interfaith Blessing of the Animals
-the Belmont Shore Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest
-the National Bulldog Beauty Contest
-the National Mutt Show
-pet adoption fairs
-the Father/Daughter Dance
-Operation Easter Basket (collects/donates more than 2,900 baskets of toiletries/candy/art supplies/books/etc.)
-Long Beach Mom Prom
-Haute Dog Howl’oween Parade (500+ dogs dressed in outfits)
-Long Beach Turkey Trot 5K/10K (5,000+ runners/walkers)
– the Long Beach Bake-Off
-the Long Beach Christmas Cookie Contest
-Little Miss/Teen/Miss/Ms./Mrs. Long Beach & Little Miss/Teen/Miss/Ms./Mrs. Southern California Cities pageants
-the Haute Dog Poetry Contest
-the Long Beach Polar Splash
-tattoo and mustache/beard contests
-Long Beach Touch-A-Truck
-“Say Cheese Long Beach” photo contest
-the free community spaghetti supper.

His favorite project of the year is “Camp Justin!” where he provides a week-long day camp of meetings, adventures and experiences for a dozen economically-disadvantaged high school seniors.

In addition to raising money and collecting goods for his own nonprofit, he has provided help for breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, food and clothing closets, animal shelters, and libraries including: COA, MHA Village, Long Beach Rescue Mission, Beacon for Him, AIDS Food Store, Feeding Long Beach, and Long Beach public libraries. He hosts very successful annual clothing and canned food drives.

He has 52,000+ unique subscribers to his 22 e-newsletters covering topics such as dogs, volunteers, kids, Belmont Shore, fitness, weight loss, gay/lesbian issues, and beach cleanups.

He led the effort to start the dog beach in Long Beach – the only legal off-leash beach in Los Angeles County. It is named “Rosie’s Dog Beach” after his late bulldog “Rosie.”

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
As a Christian, I don’t believe in luck. Rather, I believe that my path has been perfectly planned — struggles, detours, and all. God has given me so much opportunity and grace, and I’m very thankful for that.

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Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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