Philadelphia-native Sylvia Fogelman became a Washington transplant after she moved with her dentist husband when he established his first office near Dupont Circle in the early 60’s.
Before long she was invited to join Washington’s Service Guild, a women’s organization devoted to community service. She began helping at Legal Aid Services then located on G Street NW. There, those who could not afford a private lawyer where able to obtain legal advice.
A few years later, ground broke for the Kennedy Center and they were looking for volunteers tospread the word about this exciting project. Lured by the potential glamour, Sylvia took on the challenge. The first office for the Center was a trailer on the construction site where the volunteers absorbed all the details about the new facility. As the building grew, the volunteers had “hard Hat” tours where they literally learned about it from the ground up.
At this time Sylvia traveled to Maryland community organizations where she explained what was happening on the Potomac and solicited their support. Once the building was completed and opened to visitors, the presentation that the volunteers had developed became a basis for Kennedy Center tour. Sylvia was then on site, rather than on the road.
Of the many tours Sylvia led, her favorite was for a group from Philadelphia where a voice from the back of the group identified herself as her 5th grade teacher.
Another tour brought Vera Stern, wife of violinist Isaac Stern to the Center which led to a reverse recruitement. Mrs Stern, a leader in the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, challenged a few of the volunteers to support this group that supports the gamut of cultural arts projects in Israel. Sylvia was part of the group that created the Washington Chapter and later was the chapter president for a 2-year term.
Sylvia also served on the Board of Directors of Adas Israel Congregation where she was on the Personnel and Rabinical Search committees. She is currently a life member of the Board and a member of the “Garden of the Righteous” Committee. Now in it’s 18th year, this group recognizes Righteous non-Jews – those who saved Jewish people during the holocaust.
Professionally, Sylvia jokes that when she finally decided what she wanted to do when she grew up, she’ be too old to do it. She partnered in a Dental Practice Management Team which helped dentists and their staff improve their business practice skills. As part of this program, she wrote a dental patient news letter.
When a medical publishing company became aware of the newsletter, she was recruited to manage “Health Street,” a small magazine that explained hospital and health insurance programs in the Washington metro area. Peoples Drug Stores was a supporter of the publication and Sylvia then became the editor of People’s monthly employee newsletter. When CVS bought Peoples, they declined on the publications which effectively closed Health Street.
It was the early 90’s when Sylvia was introduced to the promotional products business which eventually answered the question about her grown-up project. After a few years working in other offices, in 1991 she created her own company, Small Wonders. She helps a wide variety of clients helping them promote and market themselves thought the use of customized gifts, awards, apparel, etc. Clients are provided with personal service and also can go shopping on line at www.smalwonders-gifts.com. This is the business that led to her relationship with GSA and Toni Lewis.
Ellen Allentoff, Sylvia’s daughter, left the corporate world in 1966 and joined Small Wonders at their office in Rockville, Maryland. The women are designated a small women-owned business and recognized as industry leaders in their field.