The Story of Susan's Place

By Katie Mahon, Communications Manager


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

Sr. Maggie McDermott, OP’s impact through her ministry on the most vulnerable communities in the Bronx and throughout New York City has been remarkable.


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


When discussing her ministry, Sr. Maggie shared, “The Blauvelt Dominican mission involves serving the poor and marginalized, and I have dedicated my life to that.”


One of the ministries that has genuinely helped serve the poor and marginalized has been Susan’s Place, a shelter for mentally ill homeless women in the Bronx, first started in 1996 at the Kingsbridge Armory.


Sr. Maggie explained that the idea of beginning a ministry such as Susan’s Place first became a reality, “Because I felt that this population was being overlooked and by having the right staff and atmosphere, that this place would be a part of the mission of the Sisters of Saint Dominic.”


After the initial early planning stages, Sr. Maggie would then team up with a friend, Susan Neighbacker, to help make her vision a reality. Unfortunately, her friend would never see Susan’s Place come to life as she passed away before they were ready to open.


Sr. Maggie would name the ministry Susan’s Place to honor her friend because she was a “great advocate for the homeless.”


After being open for decades, Susan’s Place has “grown throughout the years” and serves 200 mentally ill homeless women who struggle with addiction and illnesses, including schizophrenia. The staff at Susan’s Place provides their residents with services, including housing, mental health, and job placement.


Due to the growth and success of Susan’s Place, Sr. Maggie believes that this ministry “has had a lot of influence in the Bronx.”