About this sponsorship: In honor of the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary’s historic ascent of Mount Everest, Patch and Grape-Nuts are teaming up to highlight those who inspire people around them to climb their own mountains.
Community service organizer Justin Rudd stages environmental and charitable events throughout the year in his home of Long Beach and elsewhere. Most of it is done through his 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Community Action Team (CAT), and his Justin Rudd website. Although Rudd doesn’t own a cellphone and drives a 22-year-old car, the Ozark, Alabama-born activist and philanthropist has packed goodwill travel (Uganda, Kenya, Germany and Spain), good deeds (beach cleanups, clothing drives and spelling bees) and athletic events (marathons, mud runs and triathlons) into his 43 years.
This past Easter, for example, he collected and distributed more than 1,000 gift-filled Easter baskets for kids in need in Long Beach. And beginning in 2001, he launched an all-out campaign to establish a dog beach near his home in Belmont Shore.
Here’s how Rudd — whose motto is "explore, dream, discover" — sizes up his contributions.
Q. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve taken on? Or, what's a goal you're trying to achieve right now?
I organize more than 70 events, contests and programs each year in Long Beach, and each comes with challenges, limited finances and time. A few examples include: Operation Easter Basket, an annual collection and distribution of 1,300-1,700 Easter baskets filled with essentials for kids in need in the community. I’ve hosted a monthly 30-minute beach cleanup with an average of 150-200 volunteers in Long Beach for the last 14 years. And I started Rosie’s Dog Beach, the only off-leash dog beach in Los Angeles County.
Q. What inspired you to take on this challenge? Or, how do you plan to achieve another goal?
When I set out to start a dog beach in 2001, I was living a block from a very underutilized beach. I wanted be able to take my bulldog, Rosie, there to play, and it was illegal. I knew that people did not go to the beach in Long Beach because there is a two-mile-long breakwater that prevents wave action, which doesn’t allow for natural filtration. My thought was, if people are not going to swim and play here, let’s let the dogs come and frolic.
Q. Did you succeed? Or, what will you do when you succeed?
History was made on Sunday, June 24, 2001, when, for the first time in more than 30 years, dogs were permitted to play on a Long Beach city beach, despite complaints from nearby residents that the pooches left a mess behind when the day was done. In order to both comply and defy existing ordinances banning unleashed dogs, the city allowed some canine freedom on the beach in what was called a "special event" day. I organized that special event and hosted it, along with my bulldog, Rosie. Over the course of the next two years, I held 20-plus dog beach special events on various Sundays. Then, after a 15-month Rudd-led pilot program, daily beach off-leash access was granted in August 2003. That ended on Oct. 31, 2004, when the Long Beach City Council unanimously approved the permanent dog beach zone. This beach area was officially renamed "Rosie's Dog Beach" on Aug. 3, 2010, in honor of Rosie the bulldog, the dog who inspired this canine wonderland. It remains the only legal, off-leash dog beach in L.A. County.
Open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Rosie’s Dog Beach is located at 5000 East Ocean Blvd., in the Belmont Shore neighborhood of Long Beach. Among the rules, only one dog per adult. If you have two dogs, take a human friend.