In this episode, Mike Walter sits down with KISS rocker Gene Simmons and daughter, Sophie Tweed-Simmons, to discuss their philanthropy philosophy.
From donating money that goes towards life-saving surgeries to creating a safe place for abused youth, the Simmons are active in making in impact on the lives of vulnerable children.
Tune into Full Frame on CCTV America at 6:00 pm ET on March 7, 2015. Or watch the live stream of the program here.
Mending Kids at Home and Abroad
Pierre Morgan is starting kindergarten on a good note thanks to Mending Kids.
An infection from a pierced ear resulted in a large keloid on Morgan’s ear. Although not life-threatening, it was hard for him, and for his mother, Stephanie, to endure the stares from strangers.
Insurance would not cover a surgery to remove the keloid and the family could not afford the out-of –pocket cost.
But then, a pediatrician told them about Mending Kids, a nonprofit that provides life-changing surgeries to children around the world.
A team of doctors and nurses removed the keloid and reconstructed Morgan’s ear. Mending Kids paid for the entire procedure and the trip to Los Angeles where the treatment took place. After surgery, the organization even throws a tea party celebration for its young patients, complete with celebrity guests.
Since 2006, Mending Kids has helped 2,000 children in 54 countries around the world.
Full Frame contributor Sandra Hughes reports on how Mending Kids helps children like the Morgan start new lives.
Follow Mending Kids on Twitter: @mendingkids
Gene Simmons: “More is a Good Word”
Notoriously outspoken and famously long-tongued, you might think there is little you haven’t already heard from KISS musician Gene Simmons. But after nearly 50 years in rock ‘n’ roll and seven seasons on reality television, Simmons still has plenty of surprises for his fans.
At 65 years-old, Simmons still dons his trademark makeup and seven-inch high heels, spits fire, and flies across the stage – touring the world with KISS, one of the most successful music franchises in the world, with more than 100 million albums sold to date. But behind his onstage persona, aptly named “The Demon,” lies a man with many diverse interests and a passion for philanthropy.
Born in Israel, and raised in a bullet-hole-speckled, one-bedroom home by his mother, a Holocaust survivor, Simmons immigrated to the United States at the age of eight. He spoke no English and had never seen a television, refrigerator or paved streets before.
Even once KISS found rock ’n’ roll success, Simmons continued to live frugally, at one time living in a $200 a month duplex with a roommate. He didn’t own a car until he was 34 years old. And now, it’s because he remembers what it was like to be hungry, Simmons says, that he finds it so important to give back.
Simmons is a major donor to Mending Kids, an organization that provides quality surgical care to children who could otherwise not afford it. He also sponsors more than 140 children through ChildFund International, a nonprofit that supports children living in extreme poverty, and is a proponent of microfinance lending programs like Kiva and Heifer International.
While he may shun the quest for “more” when it comes to materials things, in matters of self-motivation, Simmons lives by the motto “More is a good word,” as he reveals to host Mike Walter in a wide-ranging interview.
Don’t miss this week’s episode of Full Frame, where Simmons discusses his philosophy on giving back, his fascination with China, and the future of rock ‘n’ roll.
Follow Gene Simmons on Twitter: @genesimmons
Sophie Tweed-Simmons: Not a Typical Hollywood Kid
Though she is the genetic offspring of KISS musician Gene Simmons and Playboy Playmate Shannon Tweed, Sophie Tweed-Simmons is no “wild child.”
The 22-year-old actress grew up in the public eye, spending her early teen years in front of the camera on the reality show, Gene Simmons Family Jewels. But the tabloid glamorization of stick-thin models and repeated rehab stints for Young Hollywood didn’t shape her life outlook.
Like her father, Tweed-Simmons abstains from drugs and alcohol. And along with her family, she is active in volunteering.
At 14, she lived abroad in Uruguay, where she worked at an orphanage. Since then, she has lived in seven different countries and credits those experiences with giving her a perspective on the world that is more rooted in the struggles of the world’s most vulnerable communities rather than the red-carpet glitz of Hollywood.
These experiences also inspired Tweed-Simmons to start a charity of her own, Sophie’s Place, aiming to fill a crucial gap in the services provided to physically, mentally, and sexually abused children.
Beyond her work with children, she is also an outspoken advocate for positive self-image. Rejecting the notion of “one-size-fits-all” beauty, she encourages girls to be accepting of their bodies, something she has learned to do herself, she says.
Tweed-Simmons joins Mike Walter in Los Angeles to discuss her passion projects and growing up in Hollywood.
Follow Sophie Tweed-Simmons on Twitter: @SophieTSimmons
Little Opera: Teaching Kids through Opera
The high drama of the opera is in new hands – lots of little hands, that is.
At Little Opera, an after-school program in San Francisco, children are in charge of producing an entire opera, overseeing every step in the process – from composing to costume design to directing.
Founded in the fall of 2011 by teacher and playwright, Erin Bregman, the program not only serves as an enriching arts education, but also teaches kids important lessons about how to collaborate and provide constructive criticism to their peers.
Working with teachers and professional singers, set and costume designers, and directors, the elementary and middle school students conceive and execute their own original opera in the course of the school year.
Join us for this week’s Close-Up as we meet the next generation of opera aficionados.
Follow Little Opera on Twitter: @LittleOperaSF
Tune into Full Frame on CCTV America at 6:00 pm EDT on March 7th, 2015. Or watch the live stream of the program here.