Tuesday, July 9, 2013

KISS Donates Cash To Sophie's Place, A Surrey Facility For Abused Children


A Surrey-based charity has been KISS'd with $10,000.

Makeup-wearing members of the rock band were in Vancouver Thursday to hand a five-figure cheque to operators of Sophie's Place, a facility for kids who have been physically, mentally or sexually abused.

The money will help fund an expansion of the centre, which opened in February 2012 at The Centre for Child Development on 140th Street in Surrey.

The facility is named after Sophie Tweed-Simmons, daughter of KISS bassist Gene Simmons and former Playboy model Shannon Tweed.

In addition to the $10,000, a percentage of profits made at a KISS Army-operated "pop-up" store on Granville Street last week are destined for Sophie's Place.

"It's really very generous of them and will make a huge difference in helping us serve kids who have been abused," Dr. Brian Katz, director of Sophie's Place, told the Now during a noon press event in Vancouver.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts was on hand to accept the donation, along with staff of the facility.

Simmons said the donation was "a beginning, a small token from us," with more coming. "(The centre) helps thousands of abused kids every year, and it's a great place."

KISS singer/guitarist Paul Stanley said Sophie's Place is "a charity we know well and believe in 100 per cent. And we hope everyone here, everyone getting this news-media coverage, does what they can. It's never about giving until it hurts. You give until it feels good."

Tweed-Simmons said plans are to open other Sophie's Place facilities in Canada at a later date. "We're working on getting this one absolutely perfect before we move on," she said.

In Surrey, the expanded facility will be roughly four times its current size, Katz told the Now. Construction is already underway.

"It's in the works, and we're looking to raise $500,000 for the expansion, to have all of our team members under one roof," he said. "Research has shown that it's a better outcome for kids when all professionals are working together and kids don't have to tell their story over and over again. Each time they do that, it can be traumatizing."

Tweed-Simmons said the concept for Sophie's Place was brought to her attention by Watts.

"There was a need for someone who is a kid to be a patron for the centre so we could relate more to the target audience," Tweed-Simmons said. "I was 18 at the time, and I loved it. I've worked with children my whole life and it seemed like the right thing to do, especially kind of being a B.C. native, thanks to my mom."

Katz said Tweed-Simmons has been a great partner for the centre.

"She's very much interested in the project and comes to these events and helps with fundraising, too," Katz said. "She's been able to help spread the message about what this great team is doing in Surrey, to build this child advocacy centre and make it a great resource for the community."

KISS performed Saturday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. On Thursday, autograph-seekers lined the block for the in-store appearance by the band, which formed in the early 1970s.

"With time going on, we appreciate everything a lot more," Stanley said. "The band has never sounded better and never gotten along better. We socialize and spend time together ... We're not on the first generation of KISS fans, we're on the third and fourth generation."