Since the 1800’s, America has seen amazing advancements in so many sectors, including the advent of electricity, the telephone, the automobile, and the computer. Opportunities for children and families have expanded exponentially in these last two centuries as well. While the challenges faced by today’s children and families certainly look different than they did in 1859 when Silver Springs – Martin Luther School was founded, they also bear striking similarities. Hunger, poverty, violence, and other complex societal struggles were paramount among those challenges 160 years ago and still persist today.
In 1859, Elizabeth Fry Ashmead Schaeffer, the wife of a Lutheran Pastor, felt called to respond to the needs she saw among Philadelphia’s children. With one dollar and an unrelenting passion to care for destitute and hurting children, Elizabeth rallied those who shared her vision that all children deserve to believe they matter and can have a bright future. Modeled after an orphanage in Pittsburgh, the Germantown Orphans’ Home was thus created as the manifestation of this abiding call to serve and build a place of comfort, refuge, healing, and hope for Philadelphia’s most vulnerable children.
When the program moved to Plymouth Meeting in 1972, it became Silver Springs – Martin Luther School. What was once an orphanage is now a thriving multi-program organization that remains dedicated to helping children and their families to heal, learn, and move toward a promising future. I invite you to look through these pages to read more about recent happenings at Silver Springs, the many caring professionals and staff members, and the terrific friends and supporters who embody the work envisioned so many years ago that continues today. That work may look different from 1859, but it remains true to Elizabeth’s core vision that all children matter and deserve to feel safe and have hope.
In 2019, Silver Springs is honored to be celebrating 160 years of helping children and families to prevail through the most difficult of circumstances. We are grateful to the countless caring individuals who have sustained our mission throughout these 160 years, making it possible for us to continue to serve the precious children entrusted to our care. We are honored to continue this work, and we thank you, members of our community, for sharing our vision. In June, we will gather for a celebration of our history and continued commitment to the work envisioned by Elizabeth so many years ago.
All friends are welcome to join us on Thursday, June 6th, for our 160th Anniversary Celebration on our Plymouth Meeting campus beginning at 5:30 PM.*
Kristen E.M. Gay, Ph.D.