The Story of Sammon Build Center

By Katie Mahon, Communications Manager


Sr. Maggie McDermott, OP
Sr. Maggie McDermott, OP

For the majority of her life, Sr. Maggie McDermott, OP, has been making her impact on communities in the Bronx, throughout New York City, and beyond.

In her ministry as Executive Director of Tolentine Zeiser Community Life Center, Sr. Maggie, a Sister of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York, oversees the Sammon Build Center, Tolentine Early Learn Program, Paradise Transitional Housing, Susan’s Place, and Siena House.


One of those ministries, Sammon Build Center, provides temporary housing to single-female heads of household and their children, up to age 14. (1)


The idea of Sammon Build Center initially came to light in 1990 when Sr. Maggie was then working closely with the University Housing Project and approached by an individual named Jim Mitchell, who wanted to tell her about a “great opportunity.”


Sr. Maggie shared, “I got to know Jim, and he told me about a building that would make for a good homeless shelter.”


After that initial conversation, Sr. Maggie worked with Jim, the University Housing Project, to make this idea a reality.


“We got this done in about five years. The building was completely refurbished, and we were then able to house residents.”


Since then, Sammon Build Center has “helped every program under Tolentine Zeiser flourish.”


Today, the Sammon Build Center includes 49 fully furnished apartments in the building with 1, 2, and 3 bedrooms with a kitchen and bathroom. The Center also provides on-site services to residents, including “case management, housing assistance, referral and monitoring for substance abuse, general and mental health and other programs, childcare recreation/after-school programs, and Board of Education monitoring.” (1)


Sr. Maggie went on to add, “Women get a good foundation here at Sammon Build to rebuild their life.”


When discussing the success of the Sammon Build Center, Sr. Maggie praised the staff for their efforts.


“Most of the staff have been working there for a long time. I’m just thankful the Lord has placed them in my way to run the program. I’m very proud of what has been done with the program and the neighborhood.”