Susan Major

“In October, 2017, I lost my three sons—Erik, 16; Devon, 12; and Ezekiel, 7 to a senseless act of violence.”

Nanticoke, Pennsylvania - January, 2021

My name is Susan Major. I was living what I thought was a fairly uneventful life until unimaginable tragedy struck. In October, 2017, I lost my three sons—Erik, 16; Devon, 12; and Ezekiel, 7 to a senseless act of violence. Someone I knew set our home on fire and all three of my children were killed by this arson.

I was devastated from losing my children. I also lost my home. In the ensuing months, I moved from one place to the next seeking shelter from friends who were kind enough to extend their couches. I was in the lowest place of my life. I’ve never felt so defeated.

Living in a shelter never occurred to me but, one year later and I was homeless and exhausted. I had acquired an emotional support dog—Simba. Simba and I found ourselves on the doorstep of Volunteers of America’s Ruth’s Place, a shelter. I quickly learned that Ruth’s Place had a policy of not allowing animals for health reasons and I had nowhere to turn as I could not give up Simba. The dog was all I had.

Ruth’s Place listened and empathized with my position and my need for Simba. They understood the importance of Simba in my life and shelter employees rallied to change the policies with success. Shortly after, and with Simba by my side, I had a home and the support I needed to move on with my life.

Ruth’s Place is so important because homelessness can happen to anyone. I have learned the hard way that any of us can become homeless at any time and it’s so important that we have a safe place to call home.

Today, I live comfortably in my home in Nanticoke, and with Simba. I am a former nurse and hope, in the near future, to move to Arizona and return to my profession as a forensic nurse.