<UPDATED JAN. 11, 2021

Long Beach Heroes | JustinRudd.com

Justin Rudd's nonprofit 501c3 Community Action Team (C.A.T.) Long Beach Heroes
We'll be honoring ordinary, unsung citizens who exemplify the spirit of Long Beach caring and giving. Almost $10,000 to be awarded to unsung heroes.

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once wrote: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."


Explore, Dream and Discover as much as possible in my life here on earth, and I want my Web sites to empower, equip and incite others to do the same.

I WANT TO help folks to find something new and exciting to do and experience. That's why I formed my charitable organization and named it the "Community Action Team"— a name that I feel encompasses all the varied activities and events that I have (and will continue to) organized for the good of our community.

WHAT CAN I DO to help you explore your potential, make a dream come true or discover new frontiers? I hope to hear from you.

Yours truly,
Justin Rudd!

THE MAIN PURPOSE of Justin's Community Action Team (CAT) is to promote social well-being among the general public. As a 501c3 nonprofit corporation governed by a board of directors, contributions to CAT are tax deductible and are used to help produce quality events within our community that benefit children, animals, and the environment.

C.A.T. IS AN UMBRELLA organization that includes
4Halloween Kids' Costume Contest
4July 4 Kids' Bike Parade
Haute Dog Poetry Contest
4Interfaith Blessing of the Animals
National Elementary School Spelling Bee
Nat'l Adult Spelling Bee
4Belmont Shore Sidewalk Chalk Art
4Haute Dogs on the Beach events
4Haute Dog Easter Parade
4Haute Dog Howl'oween Parade
4Operation Easter Basket
4Operation Santa Paws
45k/10k Long Beach Turkey Trot
4monthly 30-Minute Beach Cleanups
Beds, Bikes, Bears & Blankets giveaway to those in need
Clothing giveaways to the underserved
4Bulldog Beauty Contest

4Mom Prom
4All-day Read
4Say, "Cheese" Long Beach 24-hr. digital photo contest
42nd Street Walkers
4Long Beach Giving Project
4Camp Justin!

I AM A FIRM believer in the collective power of individuals joined in a spirit of goodwill and generous giving to bring about the success of a community.

-Justin Rudd!



CANCELLED: The Jan. 2021 event is cancelled due to COVID. We'll pick up honoring our local heroes once gathering is safer.

Long Beach Heroes 2020

2019 Heroes Announced

• Andrea Friedenthal
• Charron Gonder
• Christine Barry
• Laura Doyle
• Ray Smith (Hero of the Year)
• Ronnie De Leon
• Ruth Lisha
• Sheila Grantham
• Tamara Lopez
• Tanesha Tigner
• Teresa Fernandez


The 9th annual awards dinner
will be at Bay Shore Church, 5100 E. The Toledo in Belmont Shore on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, 6 p.m. Tickets are on sale for $10/person at the door and include a pasta and salad dinner. RSVP to Justin@JustinRudd.com. Doors open at 5:45 p.m. The event will last approx. two hours.

The dinner will be free for the finalists and for the person who nominated them.

Let's honor some unsung Long Beach Heroes (and give them $$$) this Sunday, Jan. 12!

Long Beach Heroes THE 9th ANNUAL EVENT will be held Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, and each Hero will be awarded at least $500 to continue doing the work they do in the community. In addition, one the Long Beach Heroes will become Hero of the Year.

Fashioned after the CNN Heroes program, thousands will be handed out to unsung heroes at a dinner/awards ceremony hosted by Justin Rudd and his nonprofit Community Action Team (C.A.T.) at Bay Shore Church in Long Beach. The event is simply called “Long Beach Heroes” and is funded by CAT’s Long Beach Turkey Trot 5K/10K.  The program is about, "Honoring ordinary, unsung citizens who do amazing things in our community."

NOTE: Nomination period Jan. 1-9, 2020. Nominate within the form below or at www.JustinRudd.com/nominate

DO YOU HAVE a relative, a friend or a co-worker who is having a big impact in the Long Beach area? In every neighborhood, there are "unsung heroes" - volunteers and paid professionals who go well beyond their expected duties. Perhaps the person you nominate is active in education, the environment, animal welfare, youth or sports. Or, maybe there is no one "category" for which the person champions. We want to know about people you think should be recognized. All ages.

This program does not award posthumously.

WE WILL recognize the unsung heroes and help them to financially continue doing what they are doing.

Judging will take place by a panel of judges, as finalists are introduced by the person that nominated them. Each Hero will receive $500.

$1,000 Givers, Long Beach Giving Project

The 9th annual LONG BEACH HEROES awards will be presented by Justin Rudd’s nonprofit Community Action Team on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, at Bay Shore Church. Funded by proceeds from the Long Beach Turkey Trot.

Heroes will receive $500 checks.

We'll be honoring ordinary, unsung citizens who exemplify the spirit of Long Beach caring and giving. Thousands will be awarded to unsung heroes. 

NOTES: This program does not allow repeat finalists or Heroes. If you are unsure if someone has been honored by this program in the past, please double-check with them before nominating (or search the names at the bottom of this page). Full list of previous heroes is below. We highly encourage you to make sure the person you want to nominate can attend the awards dinner before you fill out the form.

It's simple to nominate a Long Beach Hero

1. Come up with some reasons that you think make your nominee unique and remarkable.  Also, think through the kind of impact the person has made here in our community this past year (2019).
Long Beach Heroes nomination form2. Go to our online form and tell us about your hero.  Remember, in order for your hero to move along in the selection process, it’s important for you to answer each question directly on the online form. 

Remember, the information you share with us will be shared with the general public and media if your nominee is selected.  TIP: We highly suggest that you first write and save the answers to the questions in a word-processing document, in case you want to re-submit your nomination, you can "cut-and-paste" those answers into the form without re-writing them.
3.  Be sure to click “submit” when you are satisfied with the info you have typed in.  You’ll get a confirmation email. 
4. Nominations for 2019 Long Beach Hero awards must be received by Jan. 9, 2020.
5. Make sure that both the nominator and nominee would be able to attend the dinner ceremony in Belmont Shore.
6. Nominees and nominators who are finalists will be contacted by email on Thursday, Jan. 11.
7. This program does not award posthumously.

Public invited to Nominate Unsung Heroes. Winners will receive $500 checks.


Fashioned after the CNN Heroes program, a few thousand dollars will be handed out to unsung heroes at a dinner/awards ceremony hosted by Justin Rudd’s Community Action Team (C.A.T.).  The event is simply called “Long Beach Heroes” and is funded by CAT’s Long Beach Turkey Trot.  Semi-finalists won’t be revealed until the event. 

At last year's event, more than 100 guests attended the dinner ceremony in the fellowship hall at Bay Shore Church at 5100 E. The Toledo in Belmont Shore. The public is welcome to attend for $10 at the door, if they RSVP to Justin@JustinRud.com.

The semi-finalists will be contacted and will be introduced by their nominators at the event. Nominators and nominees will be revealed to the public for the first time during the event. After a pasta dinner buffet, each nominator will be given just three (3) minutes on stage to share with the judges and assembled audience why their nominee should be recognized as a Long Beach Hero. Judges will include a diverse group of the most outstanding volunteers with the Community Action Team. Judges will have most likely already read the full nomination papers that were submitted.

At the conclusion of the evening, Heroes will be presented with $500 checks to continue doing the work they do in our community.  A Hero of the Year will also be announced.

For the nomination process, Rudd asks the public:

DO YOU HAVE a relative, a friend or a co-worker who is having a big impact in the Long Beach area? In every neighborhood, there are "unsung heroes" - volunteers and paid professionals who go well beyond their expected duties. Perhaps the person you nominate is active in education, the environment, animal welfare, youth or sports. Or, maybe there is no one "category" for which the person champions. We want to know about people you think should be recognized. WE WANT TO recognize the unsung heroes and help them to financially continue doing what they are doing.

The Community Action Team puts on 60+ events, contests and projects each year.  A few of their other events include the Long Beach Turkey Trot, the Miss Long Beach Pageant, the monthly 30-Minute Beach Cleanups, the Bulldog Beauty Contest and the Haute Dog Haute Dog Howl'oween Parade.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is an "unsung hero?"
A: a person who makes a substantive yet unrecognized contribution; a person whose good work is unknown or not acknowledged.


Community Action Team (CAT)THANK YOU
This event is hosted by Justin Rudd and his nonprofit 501c3 Community Action Team (CAT). CAT is supported, in whole, by funds raised at the Long Beach Turkey Trot 5K/10K and Haute Dog Parades.

Q: Who is eligible to be considered as a Long Beach Hero?
A: Nominations must be in the name of an individual whose accomplishments occurred (or continued) during/after the previous year. Groups and organizations are ineligible for consideration. Self-nominations will not be accepted. Nominees must live and/or work in the Long Beach area (Long Beach, Seal Beach, Lakewood, San Pedro, etc.)

Q: How will I know if my hero is selected?
A: Because of the number of nominations that will be received, we cannot respond individually to each submission. However, if your nomination advances, we will contact you and your nominee through the email information you provide.

Q: What if I don't know my nominee's e-mail?
A: We require either an email address so we may quickly contact your nominee to obtain their permission for consideration as a Long Beach Hero.

Q: May I submit additional supportive information about my nominee?
A: There's space at the end of the form to provide links to articles or Web sites with more information about your hero. Please do not send additional materials unless requested.

Q: May I mail or fax my nomination?
A: No. All nominations must be submitted online at www.JustinRudd.com/heronominations

Q: What if my nomination form is rejected?
A: When filling out your form, please note that certain information is required. Those fields are marked with an asterisk (*).

Q: Can I attend/buy tickets to the Long Beach Heroes presentation?
A: Yes, it's $10/person to attend the dinner ceremony. The general public is welcome to attend. RSVP to Justin@JustinRudd.com.

Long Beach Heroes finalists in previous years included:

- recycling champion
- advocate for senior citizens
- volunteer at the city's animal shelter
- high school boy's sports team coach
- two spay/neuter advocates
- director of a youth musical group
- founder of a new nonprofit feeding the homeless
- two animal rescuers
- plumber who donates time and skills
- long-time beach cleanup steward
- uber volunteer who helps many nonprofits
- founder of a farmer's market
- director of a children's theatre
- founder of annual Thanksgiving dinner for homeless
- leader revitalizing a downtown public park

2018 Heroes

• Anthony Formoso
• Doug Felchlin
• Hulean T.
• Izzy Matos
• Jacob Baruch
• Julie McCall
• Lisa Hoffmaster
• Luci West
• Maleka Chris
• Mary Ann Hernandez
• Patricia DeBacker
• Paige Pelonis

2017 Heroes

• Landes Bell
• Dina Berg
• Breanna Dato
• David Fernandez
• Kenneth Fisher
• Diana Kliche
• Julie Lie
• Jenny Magana
• Sanndra Messick
• Calvin Mingione
• Noelle Polmanteer
• Yvette Purdue
• Lena Ragusa
• Tito Rodriguez
• Jessica Ruth
• Karen Thompson
• Yuri Williams (2017 Hero of the Year)
• Linda Wilson

2016 Heroes

• Rodney Coulter (Hero of the Year)
• April Smith Devane
• Louise Montgomery
• Eric Berg
• Brad Futak
• Gabe Torres 
 • Roni Naccarato
• Joel Davis 
• Paul Richardson 
• Jennifer Ballinger
• Mike Franklin 
• Jeanne Halliday
• Donna Helvey
• Jose Hernandez 

PHOTOS from the Jan. 15, 2017, event.

2015 Heroes

• Kenny Bumpers (Hero of the Year)
• Sandra Del Cid
• Brandy Gaunt
• Whitney Gomes
• Jessica Herrin
• Ward Johnson
• Jason Lehman
• Pam Rainsdon
• Christine Robbins
• Pamela Weinstein
• Hali Lynn Wolf 
• Anna Wong

2014 Heroes

Linda Choi
Keri Reich
Monica Elmore
Michael Song
Patricia Williams
Barry Cogert
Shannon James
Aurelie Vanderhoek

Emily Haden

Kate Karp

Timothy Collier
Laurel Terreri
Brina Marie Romero

Kelli Johnson
Sean McMullen
Renee Day
Allison Kripp

Their nominators include: Natalie GutenkaufDina Berg, Kelly Miott, Michael Hy, Jennifer Johnson, Crystal AnguloVeronica Durre, Emily Haden, Becky Davis, Patricia Williams, Joe CorsoCarrie NemecChristine RobbinsCathy Mccarty ProcopioJewell Faamaligi, April Devane, and Jim Danno.

2013 Heroes

Allison NicholasAllison Nicholas

Her nominator Mary McKelvie wrote: "At St. Mary's, Allison runs the CARE to dine program, raising over $30,000 for HIV/AIDs services by organizing a dine out-out night with more than 30 restaurants and dozens of community groups. She also dedicates time to Get On the Bus, a nonprofit organization that makes it possible for local children to visit incarcerated parents. She has been involved in over 10 prison bus trips taking 50+ families of the Long Beach and surrounding areas to visit loved ones in prisons 7 hours away who would otherwise not be able to visit because of transportation issues." She was also nominated by Janaya Nichols. http://careprogram.org

Anna MunguiaAnna Munguia
The 2013 Long Beach Hero of the Year is Anna Munguia. According to her nominator Raymond Chavarria: she volunteers more than 40 hours each week at MacArthur Park cleaning and teaching visitors to keep the park in good shape. She works with other homeless individuals, coaches, parents, teens and other park visitors to keep it safe, clean and green. She reports park issues to the appropriate contractor, city staff, or police, with issues including bathrooms without toilet paper, broken water sprinklers, and drug dealers. She was instrumental in having two child molesters caught by LBPD. She has lived in Long Beach since 1974.

Beatriz Bee NievesBeatriz "Bee" Nieves
Her nominator is high school senior Ida Campos. Ida expressed, "Even though Bee was raised in poverty, abuse, and abandonment, she still has the power to help others." A campus security officer at Millikan High School, Bee is the founder of a club on campus called Milli-can. "In this club she teaches us at-risk as well as role model students that life does not have to be filled with gangs, fights, graffiti, drugs or alcohol, but can be enriched with sports, community fundraisers, and educational field trips."

Claudia CopleyClaudia Copley
Nominator Maria Gugerty wrote: "I am nominating Claudia Garcia Copley, Founder and President of the 4GIRLS Organization, for the positive impact she is making in our community via the non-profit she founded in 2010. The 4GIRLS Organization is dedicated to empowering and inspiring middle school girls. The name 4GIRLS stands for 'Getting Inspired 4 Real Life Success.' The organization is committed to developing and offering an annual empowerment workshop that encourages girls to view themselves as inherently powerful, valuable and beautiful." She is also president of the Docent Guild at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA). http://inspiration4girls.org

Eric GrayEric Gray
His nominator Blair Cohn wrote: "Eric is a one man tour de force in downtown Long Beach. He is a co-founder of HOPA (Historic Old Pine Avenue) Business District, active member of the DRC (Downtown Residential Council), force behind the Twilight Walk art night and is working to promote Long Beach's foodie and music communities. And when he isn't acting as part of a group, he sets out on his own to create positive change - he saw that painting the fire hydrants gold downtown would beautify the neighborhood...so he just did it. And he has been involved in numerous tree planting and gardening projects, along with other efforts to make his community look better." He was also nominated by Jeff Williams. www.facebook.com/HistoricPineAvenue 

Cathy ProcopioCathy Procopio
Her nominator John Royce wrote: "Cathy Precopio is the driving force behind the Hughes Middle School Green Team that helped secure the school’s impressive Federal Green Ribbon School Award, one of only 64 nationwide. Funded by recycling revenue, they host campus work days in Mar and Nov. Once trampled spaces showcase low water landscapes, food, herbs & butterfly gardens. Labyrinths encourage exploration & resting spaces offer benches & embellishments crafted from discards. They’ve planted & cared for almost 50 trees selected to filter particulates from urban air and tended spaces capture rainwater that once raced to storm drains. Cathy leads students to understand and teach others to reduce their environmental impacts."

Gretchen SwansonGretchen Swanson
Her nominator Jeff Anderson wrote: "Gretchen has given countless hours of community service over the past five years by serving on the Rose Park Neighborhood Association board, spearheading the Restoration Trade Fair, and leading the Historic East Seventh organization. She is the glue the brings together not only the boards she serves, but the local businesses, schools, and other historic neighborhoods to effect positive change in our local community around Rose Park. Gretchen has not only given hundreds, if not thousands of hours of her time, but also has reached into her own pocket to help pay for supplies, events, and whatever is necessary to propel these groups and causes."

Joe CorsoJim Danno
His nominator Lena Gonzalez says: "His efforts in the Willmore City Historic District go far beyond his own interests, he simply loves his neighborhood and aggressively and creatively finds ways to obtain funding and work on projects that connect our communities and engage local youth, Spanish speakers and very diverse individuals. He makes them all come together to learn respect for their community, hard work in making things happen and collaborations with the city, other neighborhoods and private partners." www.WillmoreCity.org

Jim DannoJoe Corso
His nominator Debbie Flynn wrote: "Joe has been instrumental in setting up Community Gardens all over Long Beach. He is in high demand to start community gardens all over Long Beach that he has never had to the recognition that he deserves. He is a very hard worker. Gives his time to all the gardens that he has started. Has put up with a lot of situations that are not all good and has resolved with kindness, generosity, and consideration." www.longbeachorganic.org

Julie KimJulie Kim
Her nominator Terri Genewich submitted: "She goes out of her way to make sure things are right for everyone and that each event is supplied, stocked & ready for the community. She is also very dedicated & loyal to all her volunteer programs & events. She has been a LB Community Action Team volunteer for over 10+ yrs, helping to organize, set up/take down and recruit & implement each activity she in involved with! Julie has also been volunteering almost all of her Saturdays this past year with the Long Beach Felines to find homes for shelter rescues or abandon cats. She herself is a 'Foster Parent' to 2 rescues she eventually ended up permanently adopting, Chester & Curious George."

Liz ReyesLiz Reyes
Her nominator Diana Kliche wrote: "Liz created FOOD for Pets. F.O.O.D. for Pets provides pet food to seniors, homeless, low-income, and homebound individuals who otherwise may not have adequate food to take proper care of their pets. By easing their concerns about caring for their pets, clients can make better use of their resources, such as money and food. In many cases, the availability of pet food and more efficient allocation of resources may help a client reestablish him or herself in society." http://food4petslb.com/

Marcia Harris Fanny BixbyMarcia Harris
Her nominator Linda Hernandez wrote: "She has tutored students, volunteered at the Carpenter Center, helped for 14 years at the Governor & First Lady's Conference, festivals and LB city events. She volunteers at Rancho Los Cerritos and recently helped at the Rancho Los Alamitos Harvest Festival. She helps Performance Tire pack and deliver Thanksgiving boxes to needy LB families and gives tours of downtown LB, is involved with Bixby Knolls Strollers and in 2013 her book on Fanny Bixby was published by History Press. She portrays Fanny in the community. She helps seniors at Bixby Towers and raises Guide Dogs for the Blind. Marcia gives Magic Shows and visits children in the hospital as an LB Diabetic All-Star. She took part in the Community Police Academy and is a CERT member. As a member of LB Storytellers, shares with and about the Long Beach community." She also raises guide dogs for the blind.

Marleen HurtadoMarleen Hurtado
Her nominator Patricia Zaid wrote: "Marlene bags and distributes pet food for the homeless of Long Beach who need assistance providing nutrition for their companions. She also helped out with a float so that we could participate at the Daisy Lane Parade. She sweeps the red carpet at Bulldog Beauty Contests, volunteers at the monthly 30-Minute Beach Cleanups, she participates for charity walks such as the Red High Heel Walk in Belmont Shore. She has helped the homeless retain their pets and gives purpose and reason for them to get up in the morning."

Mimi MasherMimi Masher
Her nominator Brooke Davis wrote: "Jamie Laughlin, aka Mimi Masher, is a hero to me, and more importantly to the young women of Jr. Roller Derby of Long Beach. She currently serves as owner/manager for the Jr. league of skaters and Jr. referees. What makes Mimi's leadership role noteworthy is her success at championing the alternative sport of roller derby for the alternative youth in Long Beach; what makes her a hero is her steadfast support and belief in creating a space where young people. young women especially, can discover who they are, through the challenges and team atmosphere found in the sport of roller derby. It is a league comprised of mostly young girls from 4-17, as well as female coaches and supportive parents, some of whom also play or referee roller derby." She was also nominated by Allison Kripp, Isabella Perez and Valery Verdin.

Natalie GonzalezNatalie Gonzalez
Her nominator Kate Karp wrote: "She’s been a volunteer at Fix Long Beach, a free spay/neuter mobile clinic for low-income families, since she, her mom and her sister went there in July to get their dog, Roxy, spayed. That morning, FLB founder Claudia Hoffman needed help with Spanish translation, and Natalie rushed to the rescue. She’s been helping out at the clinic ever since, setting up the tents and tables at 7 a.m., organizing donated pet supplies to give to the clients, and, of course, translating. Natalie then took her passion and ran with it at her high school, where she’s started a Fix Long Beach Youth Club under the sponsorship of several teachers there after making a presentation about pet overpopulation and spay/neuter to about 100 students. The club meets at lunch and also at the FLB clinics. The volunteers do other activities as well; they recently helped out at a (30-Minute Beach Cleanup), wearing their bright-red FLB T-shirts." Natalie is 16 years old.

Sara CozolinoSara Cozolino
Her nominator Christine Robbins wrote: "Sara makes time out of her week, every week to go into the Long Beach Animal Shelter to take photos of animals that are adoptable. She has increased knowledge of the number of animals in the shelter that are truly adoptable. I know that I don't have any data- but I am sure that her photos help more animals get adopted. Tuesdays are Sara Cozolino’s days off. The 32-year-old professional photographer started last Tuesday the way she has begun nearly every Tuesday for the past 18 months—with a long drive across the Los Angeles Basin, from the home she shares with her husband in Glendale to the east side of Long Beach, where she shares her time with the dogs and cats at Long Beach Animal Care Services."

Sherri StankewitzSherri Stankewitz
Her nominator Kely Hiebert wrote: "Sherri runs West Coast Animal rescue, which is a local rescue here in Long Beach. She takes in dogs in need. She cares for them, works with a local vet to rehabilitate and get the dogs ready for adoptions. She works tirelessly for these animals and gives her entire life to the welfare of these animals. She has been doing this for 14 years. If she hears of a dog in need no matter how close or far, she makes arrangements to get them to her rescue and in veterinary care. She volunteers with spay and neuter groups." www.westcoastanimalrescue.org

Shirley Vaughan
Her nominator Nancy Foster wrote: "For Shirley, helping others is her passion...whether it is kids/adults or LB animals. LB Kids Connection/LB Youth Home Boosters: Held offices & participated in fundrasing. West Side Clinic that helped people without insurance...on the Board. LB K-9 Officers Association: VP, Board member, assisted with annual car show that provides funds to purchase trained K-9 police dogs for LB. Member since 1999. But Shirley's heart has always been with animals in need. With her concern for the thousands of homeless animals in Long Beach, she was one of the founders of Friends of Long Beach Animals/FOLBA (1989): President for 20+ years and continues as active board member. Emphasis on spaying/neutering, Humane Education in LB schools for students to learn the proper love and care of animals and to help eliminate animal cruelty. Shirley has been hands on in rescuing animals from LB Animals Care Services and placing them in offices of local veterinarians in order to find each one a permanent home. Funds raised for Animal Services were for medical costs and supplies for animals in their care. Vouchers for spay/neutering were made available to Animal Services as well as the public."

Tony McMahonTony McMahon
Nominator Susan Brislin wrote: "Robert 'Tony' McMahon is a formerly homeless Navy veteran and the garden captian of the US VETS Initiative Veterans Villages Recovery Center Garden at the Century Villages at Cabrillo Supported Housing Community Shelter in Long Beach. Tony has helped many many individuals and families at the shelter with his garden and has trained other veterans to help in its maintainance. He played Santa Claus for the childrens OASIS after school holiday program featuring his mint and rosemary Christmas trees grown and decorated by the veterans, and mint hot chocolate prepared from the garden peppermint."


2012 Heroes

Cindi YoungCindi Young, left
"Cindi Young is the founder of Long Beach Neighborhood Book Swap, a free book swap cart she started on the sidewalk in front of her home. She started the book swap in Aug. 2012 and it continues to grow daily. She spends her days working as a teacher and her weekends in downtown Long Beach feeding the homeless and their pets. It is a rare occasion when her living room is not filled with donated books and pet food/supplies." - Rosana Miramontes, nominator

Coronada KingCoronada King, left (Hero of the Year, $2,000)
"Ms. King has been volunteering at Carmelitos for over a year. She began volunteering by teaching a computer literacy course; she then started a food program that provides breakfast and lunch to the residents at Carmelitos.  Weekly, her program serves around 400 residents and continues to grow. What makes Ms. King so special is not simply the service that she provides but in how she provides the service. When ever someone thanks her she is quick to reply that it is her pleasure to serve. Mon. through Fri., Ms. King and her staff come to Carmelitos to prepare food and feed numerous children without getting anything in return. Never have we had such a selfless, caring service provider as Ms. King." - Jeroll Rodgers, nominator

Dan LubniewskiDan Lubniewski,
"Dan is a Marine Corps veteran, so already he\'s a hero. However, he\'s been rescuing animals all his life, pigeons in particular. For the past nine years, he's been a champion of injured birds and has become the go-to guy from Animal Care Services for injured birds. He treats pigeons who were hit by cars, cruelly wounded with fishhooks in the neck, and once, punctured in the head with a blow dart. He teamed up with ACS and wildlife rehabilitation advocates Christina Jones of S. Bay Wildlife Rehab and Terry Whatley of Village Pond Rescue, among others. His medical bag contains a net to catch the birds, peroxide, betadine, charcoal to feed poisoned birds, water, scissors, tweezers, a jeweler's eyepiece, and a pigeon pouch to carry the sick or wounded back to rehab. He's rescued a number of rare birds, including a white pigeon that ACS once asked him to get from the shelter. The bird kept returning to ACS despite various attempts to release him. Dan recognized the bird as a domesticated racing pigeon and took him from the shelter. Dan also went commando on a rescue mission in the hundred-year-old American Hotel on Broadway, where pigeons were trapped inside, rescuing many of them." - Kate Karp, nominator

Darlene McInerneyDarlene McInerney, right
"Darlene has been a Rescue Partner, our name for our volunteers, at Long Beach Animal Care Services, for almost two years. She is at the shelter in excess of fifty hours a month, walking the animals, helping the kennel staff by giving the animals clean bedding, grooming, cleaning kennels and helping the public find the perfect pet for their home. She never says no when asked to assist. Not only does she spend time physically at the shelter, but she also networks our adoptable animals through social media and through her own contacts in the evening, donating even more countless hours than we track. Darlene has been entrusted to orient our new volunteers and she has been designated the lead volunteer, making sure the animals will have someone here every day to socialize them." - Kelly Miott, nominator

Israel RodriguezIsrael Rodriguez, left
"Israel's greatest accomplishment isn't his own involvement, rather it is his unique ability to get those around him involved. Israel finds joy in getting his friends and neighbors involved in Long Beach, and cherish their sense of accomplishment when as a group, they realize how much good is achieved. In the past year, Israel has participated in the 30 minute beach cleanup 10 times, helped organize the Haute Dog Howl'oween Parade, wore high heels down 2nd St. (for charity), served as weight loss cheerleader at every Wed. weigh-in for biggest losers, and managed the crowd at the Bulldog Beauty Contest. Additionally, Israel helps those who are suffering, volunteering at the Drop-In Center on Sundays and helping make their annual Gala, the biggest fundraiser of the year, by inviting his friends! Israel also serves on the board of the Long Beach Center, helping with HIV prevention, testing, and education, and supports their community outreach programs. Israel has taken up photography this year, and used is gift to share pictures of the events with the participants, tagging them on Facebook, connecting his new recruits by building a greater sense of community and sharing their community giving." - Keir Jones, nominator

Lorian GordonLorian Gordon, right
"She took a class and learned to knit a scarf (which was way too long) so put it in her truck. One day she came upon a homeless woman who was cold. She remembered the scarf and was thrilled at how excited the woman was. She then took a class in knitting hats. Each year she knits hats and scarves for the homeless. She goes everywhere under bridges etc. distributing the 700 plus scarves/hats annually she (with the help of others) creates throughout the year. She also spread love when she gives her hats to each individual. Many people only have Lorian’s hats for warmth. She provides the yarn and know how and now has people helping her knit warmth." - Dixie Dohrmann, nominator

Thu-Huong "Lucy" NguyenThu-Huong "Lucy" Nguyen, right
"I met 'Lucy'' this past year, but am sooo impressed by her drive & dedication to the Long Beach community & people. She is involved in the Community Action Team that provides the area with charitable events that promote community, service & entertainment to all people. She is an intricate part of the team, always front & center to support & promote each activity and their participants. She is always there to make sure the set up/break down is complete & the event a success." - Terri Genewich, nominator

Ty WagnerTy Wagner, left
"Ty Wagner is member of the DOGS, Dad's of Great Students, at Twain Elementary School. Twain is blessed to have so many volunteers, yet Ty goes the extra miles. Starting when his daughter Kelcie was in kindergarten, he started being Mr. Fix It on campus. We were in search of a new tarp to cover the kinder sandbox and Ty found a volunteer to make the tarp. He lines the grass for special events, runs the intramurals program at lunch, and on the last Friday of every month, he collects all the donated plastic bottles, sometimes 1,000 or more, ties them up in a big tarp, and drives them to our recycling collector.  For years he has built the set for our Read Across America Plays, which later have been used by speech students to help them practice speaking while reenacting the stories.  Last year, to motivate the students to Read for 10 minutes every day in the month of March, he played Goldilocks and took down the house.  Now the kids call him Coach Goldie.  Most recently he took all the supplies out of our emergency bin, power scrubbed it, and fixed the shelving installed by Eagle Scouts many years back.  Ty is Twain’s Unsung Hero!" - Ellen Ryan, nominator

2012 PHOTOS: Long Beach Heroes | $16,000 awarded by Rudd's nonprofit C.A.T.

IN THE NEWS: Long Beach's Unsung Heroes Honored

2011 Heroes

Each received a $1,000 prize to help continue the good work they are doing in our city, and the Hero of the Year took home a $5,000 prize. Award money comes from the Long Beach Turkey Trot.

- Donna Bennett has raised more than $150,000 to help kids in need; coordinates gifting for dozens of needy families at Christmas; and actively encourages people to exercise their democratic right to vote.

- Angela Best is a college student who facilitates workshops on "employment challenges of the disabled;" volunteers with programs that help the homeless and senior citizens; and actively helps with drives to collect and distribute prom dresses and toys. Her nominator wrote, "Her wheelchair is her tool to success."

- Ameelia Ghareeb is a middle school librarian for two campuses. After enlisting help to overhaul one of her new school’s library, students checked out more books in the first month of this school year than they did all last year. Students who once hated the library now hand out there.

Long Beach Hero of the Year- Elyse Gordon (Hero of the Year), 65, has fostered more than 100 children of all ethnicities. Her nominator wrote, “Most of the children she gets are newborns straight from the hospital, born drug-addicted to parents who lose their parental rights, and with lots of physical and emotional problems.”

- Claudia Hoffman rescues dogs, cleans them up and finds them loving homes. She recently started a “volunteer dog walking group in Long Beach that walks abused and abandoned dogs, and she fights for legislation change by taking on local politics.”

- Mick Hoglund is a 14-year teacher and currently works at the continuation school. He offers hope to students who feel they have none. He secures scholarships and jobs for those that need them. Additionally, he oversees the prom, the student council and the school’s art contest.

- Pamela Hope co-founded and serves at a home that transitions homeless women and children to a more productive life. She writes grants to help with programs for at-risk youth. She solicits donations for charitable events, including a recent party for autistic kids and their siblings. With hard work, she also lost 130 pounds last year.

- Lisa McCarthy has implemented an all-campus lunchtime recycling program at her child’s school. Trash during lunch is now reduced by 85% -- that’s 95,000 gallons of trash that now gets recycled. The school even earns $2,000 a year by recycling bottles and cans. She also secured a grant to build a large garden on campus that serves as an outdoor classroom and even helps provide some food for needy families.

- Debora Reid has been training inner-city kids on her track and field team for 15 years. From her own pocket, she helps her young athletes with uniforms and entry fees to contests; gives them rides home; and provides food at track meets. She’s even helped pay expenses for her other coaches after they were laid off from other jobs. Her athletes hold national titles and even garner scholarships across the country.

- John Royce organizes weekly trash pickups, leads tree plantings, and organizes the annual home tour in his neighborhood. He assists local schools by planting trees, creating gardens, and helping with recycling programs. He is also known as the go-to guy in his area when animals are lost or found.

- Mary White, a single mother of four, leads a small, dedicated team of women every Friday from 10 to midnight as they seek to curb the city’s highest concentration of prostitution near the low-budget hotels on PCH, near Olive Ave. Regardless of weather conditions, they set up tables filled with sandwiches, candies, and small gifts to encourage conversations to help women on the street who might be feeling hopeless, helpless and lonely. Everything on the table is paid for from Mary’s pocket.

- Patricia Zaid provides pet food to homeless men and women so they can feed the dogs and cats that are their companions. Although this group she co-founded is just about a year old, more than 12,000 animal meals have been savored, thanks to Patricia and her small troop of volunteers. They also give out blankets, collars, leashes and pet toys every Sunday afternoon, rain or shine.

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