Gene Simmons Family Gives More Than A Kiss To Charities In Vancouver and Zambia
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Sophie Tweed-Simmons, daughter of KISS frontman and bassist Gene Simmons and Canadian actress Shannon Tweed, attended the 2013 Producers Ball in Toronto with her mom the eve of the Toronto International Film Festival. The auction benefitted World Vision, but the two have four charities they are mostly associated with, ChildFund, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Make-A-Wish, and Sophie’s own charity in Vancouver, BC. The family has a vacation home in nearby Whistler.
“We started that with Surrey Mayor Diane Watts two years ago and it’s been up and running. We have a government grant so we’ll be up for at least the next six years and hopefully forever, as long as they need us.”
The child advocacy centre is inside Surrey’s Centre for Child Development, which is a partly government-funded facility that helps children with special needs reach their potential.
Sophie’s Place Child Advocacy Centre opened in January 2012 and Tweed-Simmons, then 19, was there to cut the pastel ribbons with her proud parents looking on.
“Sophie’s Place is intended to be a multi-disciplinary, child-centred service for children who are victims of abuse,” it states on the web site. “It is to be modeled after the Zebra Child Protection Centre in Edmonton.
“The Advocacy Centre will support children 0-12 who are victims of abuse with a new more child friendly approach to investigations of abuse; sadly, children with special needs are disproportionately victims of child abuse.”
“We help about 2000 kids, ages 18 and under, who have been sexually, mentally and physically abused,” says Tweed-Simmons. “It’s really been a big community effort to keep the place open and get all the resources that we need. So I’m really proud of Vancouver for pulling together.”
Adds Tweed: “Of course, we try to recruit her dad to fundraise.” They both laugh. “Not always easy, but we do our best.” Last July, Tweed-Simmons had a 20th birthday bash/Sophie's Place fundraiser at Maxx Fish Nightclub and Lounge in Whistler and her father was there.
Gene Simmons is actually extremeley generous with his time and money. This summer, he showed up with the band at the Brennan Rock & Roll Academy in Sioux Falls, SD, which gives kids from the Boys & Girls Club access to instruments and lessons. In July, KISS donated $10,000 and proceeds from their merch pop-up shop to Sophie's Place when the band was in Vancouver for a concert at Rogers Arena.
Tweed then tells the story of how they came to support ChildFund, the one-to-one child sponsorship organization now in its 75th year. The web site says it works in 31 countries and in 2012 assisted 17.8 million children and their family members.
“ChildFund used to be called Christian Children’s Fund,” Tweed explains. “You might know it from hearing it on TV at midnight all the time. When I was first dating Gene, he would pick up the phone every night and tell his office, ‘I want to adopt 10 more kids,’ and before I knew it he had like 150 kids.
“And I said, ‘Maybe we should go and visit some of them. They would emancipate out of the system and before we knew it we wouldn’t know who they were so finally we went to Africa, to Zambia [in 2012], and we opened some lunch programs for schools, dug some wells, built some homes and traveling clinics.
“Everybody can do their part.”
* Samaritanmag.com is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.