Golden Slipper Name Change Reflects Breadth

Back row from left: Sheree Little-Abobi, social worker and site director; Activities Coordinator Chelsea Roach; Meal and Transportation Coordinator Ahren LaLonde; and Russian Adviser Lyuda Ulyanitskaya. Front row from left: Nutrition Aide Barbara Walker, Nutrition Aide Erica Sullivan, Executive Director Marcia Garrell, and Activities Coordinator Debra Ross | Photo provided

“Gems” connotes a feeling of treasure, passion and respect, a factor that went into the word’s selection as part of the former Golden Slipper Center for Seniors’ new branding.

The center is changing its name to Golden Slipper Gems. Executive Director Marcia Garrell said the organization has grown over the years in both the breadth of its purpose and its locations, and the old name no longer reflected that reality.

The organization has grown from serving 50 older adults in 1995 to nearly a thousand today.

“The word ‘gems’ is because we consider the older adults that we serve to be gems … and very importantly, we consider our staff to be gems,” Garrell said. “We have very compassionate staff who’ve been with us for 18 to 20 years. They’re the ones that present the programs that we do, and they are truly gems.”

Golden Slipper Gems was founded 24 years ago at the Pavilion in Wynnefield Heights as a fairly traditional day center for seniors. The organization provides hot lunches and in-depth and concrete social work services. Garrell said most of the clients come for food, social services or just for recreation.

As the population of Wynnefield changed, so did the demographics of Golden Slipper Gems. Today, the location serves a clientele mixture of older Jews, Russian immigrants and African-Americans.

Ten years ago, the organization added a second location on the Main Line. Serving a more affluent clientele, the location, based at Adath Israel in Merion Station, focuses on educational programming, almost like mini college courses, Garrell said. It also organizes cultural trips, such as to New York or The Philadelphia Orchestra, which provides socialization and connection opportunities.

Its most recent location started five years ago in two Federation Housing buildings to provide recreational services, such as music, arts and crafts, bingo and exercise classes. Two years ago, Golden Slipper expanded to four more buildings at Federation Housing. Music dominates at Federation Housing, Garrell noted, as it’s by far the most popular recreational activity.

“We really look very closely at what the population we’re serving needs,” Garrell said. “We change our services based on what they need. It’s more geared toward them as the client. What brings all of our services together is that we’re enriching the lives of older adults.”

Susan Richter and Roberta Rothstein-Both, members of Golden Slipper Gems at the Pavilion | Photo provided

Golden Slipper recently received a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Bernard and Etta Weinberg Fund to conduct a feasibility study to explore duplicating the Main Line model in another county. The possibility of further growth was another factor in changing the name to something that could grow with the organization.

“We needed to have a name that really reflected who we’ve become, not who we had been,” said Jill Caine, board of directors vice president and branding committee chair.

For the past two years, Garrell and the board discussed changing the name. Caine said she helped select Masters Group Design as the marketing firm to lead the branding change and arranged focus groups with staff and clients from the different entities.

Masters Group Design created a list of eight contenders, from which the new name was selected. Throughout the conversations, the word “gems” kept coming up, Caine said.

Golden Slipper Gems is now changing its collateral material. It already has a new Facebook page and within a few months there will be a new website, too.

“There are so many gems around us,” Caine said. “There’s just treasure, and as you get older, you want to be treasured.”

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