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Dawn Cotton has been assisted several times by Catholic Charities federated agencies. She helped her sons Drentay and Dontay Smith with their schoolwork while son Ace Rimson sought her attention at their St. Louis home.
Dawn Cotton has been assisted several times by Catholic Charities federated agencies. She helped her sons Drentay and Dontay Smith with their schoolwork while son Ace Rimson sought her attention at their St. Louis home.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

Catholic Charities helps give a healthy ending to a woman’s rough beginning in life

Woman touts Catholic Charities for its agencies’ consistent help

Dawn Cotton owns a cosmetics business. She makes and packages all the products, including shower gels and moisturizers, that she sells online and at events. She also works as a medical coordinator. She has four children and is financially secure.

Getting there wasn’t easy.

Cotton’s mother died when she was 7, leaving her sister to take care of her and her brother. But it wasn’t a healthy situation.

Cotton decided at age 15 that she’d had enough — her family wasn’t providing a good environment for her. So she searched for a place to live and learned of the successful record of Marygrove, a Catholic Charities of St. Louis agency that helps children, teens and young adults learn how to transcend an abusive past or overcome other life challenges and move toward a brighter future.

After a family court hearing, Cotton was placed at Marygrove. Soon after arriving, she learned that she was pregnant.

Marygrove helped her with medical care and other needs. “They followed through with everything they stated they were going to do,” Cotton said.

They placed her in an unrelated residential program for pregnant teenagers that provided Cotton with a path to get her own apartment. And even after that, Catholic Charities remained a resource for her, ensuring that she had what she needed to thrive. They helped her from age 15 up to age 21.

At age 25, she was in need again and received help from Good Shepherd Family and Children’s Services when she had a difficult pregnancy. She had congestive heart failure, and the high-risk pregnancy prevented her from working. They helped the whole time during the pregnancy and up until her child was 2. She landed another job after her baby was born and needed less assistance, but Good Shepherd maintained contact just to make sure she was OK and assisted her in setting aside funds in a savings account.

She also received help from Saint Martha’s Hall, a Catholic Charities of St. Louis shelter care program for abused women and their children.

It’s been seven years since she’s needed help, and now Cotton has turned the tables by assisting Catholic Charities of St. Louis by speaking about its importance to the community. She spoke at a Christmas concert fund-raiser last month and is happily promoting Catholic Charities of St. Louis as it begins its 2020 Christmas Campaign.

“My mission is to give back and let it be known how they provide endless opportunities and assistance,” Cotton said.

“I knew they were genuinely trying to help me, and I listened and took everything in,” Cotton said. That’s a big thing for teenagers. You have to listen and get past all the anger you have for being in the position you’re in, open your mind and let them help you because it will favor you in the end.”

Catholic Charities of St. Louis, an Annual Catholic Appeal recipient, provided Cotton with a foundation and taught her many skills. Its agencies have so many resources to assist people, she said. “Catholic Charities is so big on helping people who want to succeed. They’ve helped me so much. Anytime I asked, they would help or refer me to other people.”

With a good job, beautiful family and an online business, Royalty Collections, Cotton is determined to continue her success. “I want to thank everyone who contributes to Catholic Charities. You helped me write a healthy ending to my story, and I want you to help others get a happy ending as well,” she said.


>> Catholic Charities Campaign

Supporting Catholic Charities of St. Louis helps bring God’s love to others every day of the year.

Theresa Ruzicka, president of Catholic Charities of St. Louis, writes about that support in a letter on Catholic Charities of St. Louis 2020 Christmas Campaign. The support helps women facing crisis pregnancies, seniors struggling to pay their bills, families navigating a new homeland, women and children traumatized by abuse, veterans experiencing homelessness, and many others, including a growing number of individuals and families economically devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Catholic Charities of St. Louis has been helping people in need since 1912. Organized as a federation of eight agencies, Catholic Charities services impact more than 100,000 each year. Catholic Charities serves 11 counties in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

For information on donating to the Catholic Charities of St. Louis 2020 Christmas Campaign, visit www.ccstl.org/donate.

“Catholic Charities is so big on helping people who want to succeed. They’ve helped me so much. Anytime I asked, they would help or refer me to other people.”

— Dawn Cotton

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