Henrico County VA

KISS star partners with Henrico organization

A&E show to highlight Simmons' trip to Zambia with ChildFund International
Gene Simmons poses with a number of students during his recent trip to Zambia with ChildFund International.
Gene Simmons, legendary lead singer of the band KISS, was on television June 25, but not in his usual rock-star role. His show, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, featured his recent trip to Zambia, where he met up with several children he sponsors through Henrico-based ChildFund International.

The experience was originally a surprise to Simmons, planned by his new wife, Shannon Tweed, for the couple’s honeymoon.

“[Shannon] decided she wanted to go to Africa, and that’s where this brainchild of hers started,” said Cynthia Price, ChildFund’s director of communications. Price worked with the show’s production company to coordinate the trip and accompanied the couple to Zambia.

Simmons sponsors more than 140 children, Price said.

“Gene came to ChildFund the way so many people do,” she said. “He was watching TV, saw the commercial, and he was moved by it, so he sponsored his first child, and then many more.”

Price hasn’t seen the episode but hopes it will portray the trip well. The trip began with Simmons being introduced to one of his sponsored children named Edward. Edward then walked Simmons around the area, showing Simmons the long distances from his water source to the road going to his school.

“Gene was overwhelmed by it,” Price said, “moved to tears actually.”

During the trip, the couple visited three different schools, where he met several of his other sponsor children. Simmons and Tweed were both impacted significantly by the poverty they saw.

“I will waste less, spend less and appreciate more,” Tweed said.

The episode aired on A&E.

“It’s a great way for people who might be considering sponsorship to see how real it is and the impact that a person can have overseas,” Price said. “And obviously, we hope it moves more people to sponsor.”

ChildFund International is headquartered in Henrico's Near West End. The organization was founded in 1938 by a former minister in Richmond to help children in China who were orphaned by the war, Price said.

Sponsoring a child costs $28 a month, and ChildFund works with local partners within the affected areas because “they understand the culture and environment and issues and opportunities,” Price said.

“You as a potential sponsor can pick which country you want, and we have 31 countries,” she said. “You can pick the age of the child, the sex of the child and then the money that you give each month goes to the child’s family and to the community.”

For details, visit http://www.childfund.org
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Brews and bites done right

Urban Tavern’s big, bold themes impress

The Urban Tavern opened in August, replacing the former Shackelford’s space at 10498 Ridgefield Parkway in Short Pump. Because of local and longtime devotion to Shackleford’s, Urban Tavern has some big shoes to fill.

Without any background information, I headed to the restaurant for dinner on a Wednesday night, two months after its opening.

On a perfect fall evening, four out of eight outdoor tables were taken, giving the impression that the restaurant was busier than it was. On the inside, a couple tables were taken, and a few folks were seated at the bar. > Read more.

A terrible, horrible movie. . . that’s actually pretty good

‘Alexander’ provides uncomplicated family fun
It’s not surprising in the least that Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day doesn’t much resemble the book it’s based upon.

Judith Viorst’s 1972 picture book isn’t exactly overflowing with movie-worthy material. Boy has bad day. Boy is informed that everyone has bad days sometimes. Then, the back cover.

In the film, the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad-ness is blown up to more extreme size. Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) has a bum day every day, while the rest of his family (Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey) exist in a constant bubble of perfection and cheery optimism – to the point that the family is so wrapped up in their own success that Alexander’s being ignored.

So on the eve of his 12th birthday, Alexander makes a wish: just once, he’d like his family to see things from his perspective; to experience the crushing disappointment of one of those no good, very bad days. Once he has blown out the candle on his pre-birthday ice cream sundae, his family’s fate is sealed: one full day of crippling disasters for all of them. > Read more.

Deep Run HS plans fall musical

Tickets for Deep Run High School’s fall musical production – Aida – will go on sale Nov. 3. The Elton John-Tim Rice pop opera, inspired by Verdi’s classic opera, tells the story of enslaved Nubian princess Aida, who falls for captain of the guard Radames, who is betrothed to the Egyptian princess.

Performances will be held Nov. 13-15 at 7 p.m. each day. > Read more.

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