Martin H. Klein, LNHA, CALA, President and CEO
It all began on July 6, 1970. While awaiting his teaching certificate to be processed, Marty Klein started a summer job with the Hebrew Old Age Home in Atlantic City.
It was to be a temporary position, to help out his neighbor, Sidney Rosenberg, director of the Home. It might have been fate, but there was an unusual delay in obtaining those teaching credentials that decided the trajectory of his career.
“It was a close-knit community,” explained Marty, “and everyone knew what everyone else was doing. The Board of Education Office had received my certificate but simply filed it because they knew I was working at the old age home. I didn’t know it had even come in. I called up the superintendent to tell him to get someone else because I couldn’t work without a certificate.”
It was the start of a lifelong career for Marty Klein. He was 26 at the time, and brought with him a dedicated work ethic. His new boss, Sid, wasn’t used to the assistance, and initially Marty had to take work off of his desk. He was a quick study and when his boss retired five years later, Marty easily transitioned into his role as Director. SGLC became an integral part of his family life. Not only did his wife Janice eventually join the staff, but his children were a constant presence.
“My kids grew up here,” he said. “Every other kid in the neighborhood was excited to get a snow day. My kids knew that if it snowed, they’d be working with me here. They would mop floors, serve residents, and help out wherever they could.”
It wasn’t unusual for Marty and Janice Klein to take up residence during storms or other emergencies to make sure that the residents are well cared for. They continually go the extra mile for their extended family at SGLC.
“I think someone up there is trying to challenge me,” he joked. “I’ve been through just about everything you can think of.” That includes a fire at the Atlantic City location, numerous hurricanes, and a major move of residents to the new Galloway Township facility in 2002, and now a pandemic.”
The staff almost universally refers to him as “Mr. Klein” whether speaking to him or about him; he naturally commands that respect. He’s quick with a compliment on how well employees are doing, and equally fast to point out something that is not up to his gold standard. “Other folks in the industry don’t even call for references if one of our staff members leaves here,” he noted. “They ask, ‘oh you worked for Marty Klein? Enough said.’”
That’s because Marty Klein gives 110 percent, and expects his staff to follow suit. “I have a few key rules,” he said. “Be loyal, clean and neat. Respect the residents. Treat them the way you’d want your own mom or dad treated. This is not your ordinary job. This is business that runs 24/7/365, and one where people’s lives depend upon it. That’s why we’re here.”
Martin H. Klein – Tributes & Stories
During a 50-year career, you can imagine how many lives Marty Klein has touched. Here are just some of the stories that exemplify his spirit and vision.
Jason S. Goldstein, SGLC Board of Directors
I have known Marty for 12 years. I knew him from the community but really got to know him when I became a board member at SGLC
Marty is a loving and compassionate person. He wears his heart on his sleeve and that is what makes him the wonderful person he is. I always love seeing him and enjoy our lunches together to talk about the home and life. He is an amazing friend!
One thing about Marty is that he is involved in all aspects of SGLC. He has his hands in everything! My famous story with Marty was when I was chair. I wanted a new website for the home. In today’s world, people visit a website before they visit the actual place and I felt SGLC needed to really be showcased on our website. Sharon and I set up a meeting with a website company and Marty attended. What I love about Marty is he is old fashioned. Technology is not his strong suit. After a few minutes in the meeting talking about websites and the different verbiage associated with the internet, Marty stood up and excused himself. He said whatever Jason wants, let’s do it. For a man of his statute to put all that trust and confidence in me was very warming to my heart. We produced a wonderful site and have continued to evolve it as a source of information for family and the community.
When we were at the old location, many a Saturday night a resident would get out of the building. Marty would ride his bike from our home in Ventnor looking for the resident on the Boardwalk since many of them would walk back to the inlet. These were our Saturday night specials.”
We only lived about 10 blocks from the Atlantic City location and many a blizzard we would walk when you couldn’t drive or the busses were running. Our daughters would listen to the radio hoping school was open because if not they knew they would be working at the Home.
In 50 years, he only missed one Passover Seder due to a death in the family. One thing that Marty has repeated over the years to family and friends is there has never been a day where he has not wanted to go to work. That was true no matter what he was facing, whether a flood, hurricane, fire in the facility, blizzard, and of course now COVID.
Janice Cambron, Former Executive Director, SGLC
I’ve known Marty since 1984, ever since the half-day “marathon” interview that I had with him. At the time, he was working, and expertly balancing receptionist desk duties while asking me interview questions. This was back in the old building, which he had helped to build. That building, by the way, was state-of-the-art at the time. He loved to build, and he was good at it, which is why the board wanted him at the helm as we made the move to Galloway with a brand-new home.
There are so many characteristics that make Marty a great leader. He has such an observant eye. He’ll notice if you move a vase six inches. I always told him that he’d be the first person to notice, and tell me, if I had a run in my stocking. His powers of observation have served him well over the years, in noticing every detail in maintaining a clean Home.
With Marty, the residents always came first. He would say to get what the residents need, and we’ll find a way to pay for it. He also cared deeply about the staff. I can remember having discussions with our benefits company. They told us that nobody does that for their staff. We did because Marty wanted to give the staff what they needed.
There are so many people whose lives he has touched, and so much that has happened under his leadership. He managed the evacuation for Hurricane Gloria in 1985. It was like being in a war room; we all had to say whether we thought we should stay or evacuate. We ended up evacuating to Holy Spirit High School. After it was over, Marty was the first one to come back on the island, to make sure the building was in good shape for our return.
He is a great leader with an incredible amount of foresight. He brought in the first social worker. His organizational ability was evident as we moved to the new building in Galloway. After moving over 100 people and staff in three days, the only thing we misplaced is one TV.
That’s so amazing to me.
Marty was a pilot, and I’ve had the opportunity to fly with him. When he was the President of our state association, now called Leading Age NJ, we were invited to a conference, and we flew there. It was a gorgeous day in the late afternoon, traveling up the New Jersey coast. But by the time we got out of the meeting, the fog had rolled in. I understand why people say the fog was like soup. We had to fly through the fog and around an airplane that was out there without any communication. We tried three times to land at Bader field and we could not land. Eventually, we were detoured to the FAA. All the while, I’m silently praying. Marty is calm, cool, and collected. We landed safely, and I remember being thankful I didn’t die. Marty is energized by the whole experience.
Alysia Price, LCSW, LNHA, CALA, CDP, Executive Director
I have known Mr. Klein since my start at SGLC as a social worker in May of 2000. I have learned so much about the field from him and he has encouraged and supported my desire to continue my education along the way to the position I hold today as Executive Director. He is a mentor to me and to many in the field.
Mr. Klein is extremely passionate about the Home and about the care of the elderly. He is an extremely fair person and open to listening to different positions. He is consistent on how he treats everyone; he is very honest and straightforward. He truly cares about the employees and wants everyone to enjoy working for the Home. Not only does he demand that the residents receive great care, he cares about the employees’ overall well-being. He wants the employees to feel good about what they do.
There are so many wonderful accomplishments. I think the relocation from Atlantic City to Galloway Township and building the affordable housing were amazing accomplishments. His vision, along with the Board of Directors, to create a true “home” atmosphere, versus a “facility” atmosphere was achieved. However, what impresses me the most is how much he truly cares; you can see and hear how much love and devotion he has for the Home and his admiration of the staff.
Dean L. Scarpa, Past President, SGLC Board of Directors
I have known Marty for over 46 years. We were both taller then. I started as a board member and went through many positions on the board until I became President. I was at the time of my presidency, the youngest president of the then Hebrew Old Age Home. When I told Marty I wasn’t sure that I was up to the challenge, he told me not to worry and he would guide me. Which he did. Sometimes he would suggest, sometimes he would plead, sometimes he would beg. But always we had (and still do) a great working relationship and I think friendship.
I would say that Marty gets better with age, like a fine wine. It is because of HIM that we didn’t have to close Seashore Gardens the years I was President, when the State of New Jersey was going to cut our funding. It is because of HIM that we moved from Atlantic City to Galloway Township to the beautiful, state-of-the-art assisted living facility we are in now. And it was because of HIM that we have an on-campus elder care apartment complex. I must confess that most of these changes he pushed for relentlessly. I wasn’t always in agreement, but HE WAS RIGHT!
There are too many stories in my memory to list, but the one I remember the best is… when we (Marty myself and a high-powered lawyer from Princeton) had an appointment in Gov. Florio’s office in Trenton to try to stop the state from cutting our funding. Marty wanted to fly his plane to Trenton. I said I would drive and meet them there. I was concerned about flying in a small private plane (Marty was the pilot). He was a good pilot…I was a bad passenger. So, he decided to drive us up to the meeting. That was a mistake…FYI, Marty drives a car like he flies a plane… FAST…After we stopped at his favorite gas station somewhere between Atlantic City and Trenton to get, not only gas, but “the best popcorn” in New Jersey, we continue on our way. I can’t help but think it might have been better to fly to the meeting.
We made it to the meeting and I told the Governor’s policy advisor that if they didn’t give us funding, we would bring all our residents to the State House and walk (or roll) around with signs. Two weeks later (Christmas Eve), we got a call from the Governor’s office telling us that “they found the money” and our funding was safe. When I asked why all of a sudden they had the money for us, they said we had become a “cause celeb,” which means we were a pain and they wanted us to leave them alone. We didn’t close. But we were close.
The bottom line is Marty is extremely loyal and knows more about the senior citizens’ business than anybody I know. We are fortunate to have him. And I am fortunate to call him my friend.
By the way, the popcorn really wasn’t that good.
Here’s to Your Next 50 Years!!! Congratulations, Marty!!
Richard J. Cohen, CFP, President, Seashore Gardens Foundation
I’ve known Marty for almost 40 years. There are two words that I would use to describe him: visionary and dedication. Marty is always thinking ahead to what the home will look like, and what the industry will look like, years from now. He’s always guided us toward the future, whether it was moving to Galloway, adding different services like assisted living and affordable housing, taking advantage of refinancing opportunities. He was always at the forefront of change, and for that, he is a visionary. I have seen Marty give status reports and break down and cry on multiple occasions. Marty leads from the heart and the home and the residents are part of who he is. Whether it’s a hurricane, flood, storm, or any emergency, Marty’s dedication was always paramount.
Marshall Goldberg, Sc.D., LNHA, President, Med-Net Healthcare Consulting, LLC
When I started in the business decades ago, I attended a NJANPHA (LeadingAge NJ) meeting. I was a big shot having just earned a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration. It tuned out I knew nothing at all. There were no books or papers that could possibly prepare me for what was coming. At that first meeting Marty came over to me, introduced himself, confirmed that my education meant “bubkes” and gave me his phone number. That phone number was the best degree I have ever earned. To state that Marty was a help to me all these years would be an understatement. Marty is not just my colleague; he is my BFF.
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