SURREY (NEWS1130) – It’s being billed as a one-stop service provider for child victims of abuse.

Legendary KISS frontman Gene Simmons and his family brought their star power to Surrey on Sunday to help cut the ribbon on the new Sophie’s Place.

With reality TV and local news cameras rolling, Simmons’ daughter and the centre’s patron, Sophie Tweed-Simmons, cut the ribbon on an initiative Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts says RCMP first asked her to look into last September.

The centre brings police, the Ministry of Child and Family Services, doctors and trauma screening professionals together under one roof to streamline services in a way they hope will lead to more convictions.

“It’s really important for me to have kids have a place where adults can take them seriously,” said an emotional Tweed-Simmons,” and where they can express what’s happened to them in a safe environment.”

The new centre occupies 1,000 square feet in The Centre for Child Development on 140th St. It is the first of its kind in the region.

Tweed-Simmons explained that under the current system when police reports are filed, children who suffer physical, sexual and mental abuse are passed from agency to agency. Telling their painful stories over and over again can lead to legal loopholes that perpetrators can exploit in court, which is why police asked for the creation of a single agency where they could tell it just once to a team of highly specialized staff.

“It’s unfortunate but it’s great that these kids have a place to go, where they don’t have to be shuffled around, where they can talk to someone who they trust and be heard and, you know, hopefully get results,” Tweed-Simmons said.

The young co-star of A&E’s Gene Simmons Family Jewels got involved with the project after meeting Watts, and helped out during the four-week construction phase of the child-friendly environment.

Some of the 150 or so people who attended the opening ceremony were shocked by how quickly Sophie’s Place came together. When asked how she did it, Watts said: “Probably [by] circumventing government.

“When you’ve got the community together, everybody on the same page going in the same direction, things happen very quickly, and so it was a tremendous opportunity, we seized the opportunity at the time, and you know what? If we had waited until you get everything, it would be years, it would absolutely be years.”

Watts added she would be approaching the provincial government for help with funding. She said Surrey has contributed a net $7 million to the province’s coffers over the past six years in the form of proceeds of crime collected under civil forfeiture laws. She plans to apply to get some of that back to help fund the new Sophie’s Place.

Watts said about 1,000 kids a year in the Lower Mainland report abuse to police. When it opens in February, Sophie’s Place will be one of only a handful of similar facilities in Canada, based on the model set by Alberta’s Zebra Centre.