our history

Gemma Services was formed in 2019 when Silver Springs – Martin Luther School and theVillage united to operate as one single organization serving children, families, and communities across the Philadelphia region. Their similar histories, strongly rooted in the Lutheran and Presbyterian faith of their founders, date back to the late 19th Century when they were founded as orphanages in Philadelphia.


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

Silver Springs:


The Board of Trustees votes to merge with theVillage and ignite increased capacity to serve more children and families and in more ways.


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 Disorder.


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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



The Board of Trustees votes to merge with Silver Springs and ignite increased capacity to serve more children and families and in more ways.


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


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


The organization transforms from a conventional orphanage into a residential treatment center model for emotionally-troubled children and hurting families and begins providing Foster Family Care and other community-based services focused in Southwest Philadelphia.


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.


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.


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


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.