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ABOUT US / HISTORY

our history

Gemma Services was formed in 2019 by the merger of two long-standing Philadelphia nonprofit organizations: Silver Springs – Martin Luther School and theVillage. The two united to operate as one organization dedicated to accompanying people of all ages as they face life’s challenges. Their similar histories, strongly rooted in the Lutheran and Presbyterian faiths of their founders, date back to the late 19th Century when they were each founded as orphanages in Philadelphia.

2023

Gemma Services announces a new vision, mission, and set of values.

2020-2022

Several programs are added or expanded. Martin Luther School expands to include grades 9-12. Family Based Mental Health Services and a Family Support Program are added to the range of support for families in our local communities.

2019

November: Gemma Services is formed by the merger of Silver Springs and theVillage.

Silver Springs:

2019

The Board of Trustees votes to merge with theVillage and ignite increased capacity to accompany more community members in more ways.

2018

Silver Springs is selected by Community Behavioral Health, Philadelphia’s Managed Care Organization, to provide Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based practice for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

2014

The Outpatient Mental Health Program is established in Plymouth Meeting and Mt. Airy, where the Intensive Behavioral Health Service (IBHS) program is based also.

2009

Silver Springs begins providing Behavioral Health Rehabilitation Services (now IBHS), including specialized therapeutic support to children in their own homes and schools.

1976

Foster Family Care is established to ensure that if a child’s immediate family is unavailable, upon leaving residential treatment, a child would have an appropriate home to go to.

1972

The children’s programs move to the Silver Springs farm in Plymouth Meeting, PA and adopt the name Silver Springs – Martin Luther School. Community Based Programs continue in the Germantown area of Philadelphia

1969

Martin Luther School opens for elementary level special education students as a Pennsylvania Department of Education “Approved Private School.”

1950s

The Residential Treatment Program is developed for children with emotional and behavioral challenges.

1859

Elizabeth Schaeffer founds the Germantown Orphans’ Home to assist those in need, including parentless children, Civil War orphans, adults, and over time, children with special needs and their families.

theVillage:

2019

The Board of Trustees votes to merge with Silver Springs and ignite increased capacity to accompany more community members in more ways.

2013

The Board of Trustees votes to change the name to theVillage in response to an expanding geographic focus, and a diversifying continuum of services.

2003

The Preheim Center opens in Southwest Philadelphia, a mile from the former orphanage location, to accommodate a growing commitment to community-based programs, including foster care, adoption, after-school programs, parent education, mental health services, and prevention programs.

1970s

The organization transforms from a conventional orphanage into a residential treatment program model for children experiencing significant emotional and behavioral challenges, and families who are struggling, and begins providing Foster Family Care and other community-based services in Southwest Philadelphia.

1960

The orphanage moves to the former Glencoe estate in Rosemont, PA, a donation from Samuel Robinson, co-founder of Acme Markets, and his wife Mary Park Hill, a Board member of the orphanage since 1926.

1943

The agency changes its name to Presbyterian Children’s Village and expands its services to meet the changing needs of dependent and at-risk children and their families.

1883

The Presbyterian community builds and opens a new orphanage campus in Southwest Philadelphia, where it operates until 1960.

1877

TheVillage is founded as The Presbyterian Orphanage by a group of Presbyterian women in response to the growing number of children in need in the Philadelphia area and operates out of a home on Bainbridge Street in Center City Philadelphia.