If you catch the smell of brownies wafting down the hallway of
Bellarmine floor 4, it’s a safe bet that it’s Brownie Night at Joe’s
place. If you’re not immediately enticed by the smell, then you’re sure
to stay for the equally warm, sweet company of Joe and fellow residents.
Joe Cotton has been the Resident Minister (RM) for Bellarmine Hall for
as he works toward his MA in Pastoral Studies. The role of the RM is to
provide a safe space within the hall for dialogue and exploration of
challenging spiritual and personal issues. Not only does Joe do that,
but he also wants to be a supportive friend for every resident that
comes to his door. In addition to his role in Bellarmine, he works in
the Seattle community as a Chaplain at the King County Juvenile
For the month of March in particular, Joe deserves to be recognized for
his individual work, collaborative programming with Bellarmine Hall
Council and the resulting success of these combined efforts.
Joe’s individual efforts often go unrecognized. Nonetheless, he tries to
leave his door open whenever he’s at home, often as late as 9 at night
when he gets home from work at the Detention Center. At the beginning of
the year, Joe made it known to all the residents that he’s “the guy who
listens.” Even if no one comes to Joe’s door that night, the fact that
he makes himself that available shows remarkable commitment to
supporting students. Whenever I’ve gone to the fourth floor this month,
sometimes Joe’s room is packed, and sometimes it’s empty, but that door
is always open.
A favorite program of the residents is “Brownie Night at Joe’s.” Joe has
this program at least once a quarter, and this quarter was no exception.
It took place this March and as always, the program was a huge success.
Residents swarmed the room for treats, some coming and going throughout
the evening, but many stayed for the great company and inviting
atmosphere. This program allowed residents to engage with each other
over a simple dessert in the “homier” space of Joe’s apartment.
Moreover, this program raised awareness about Joe’s presence in the
hall: where he is and what his role is for.
Joe’s biggest achievement this month was his partnership with Bellarmine
Hall Council to fundraise for Denis, a youth that Bellarmine Hall has
sponsored through Friends of the Orphans for over two years. Denis is a
college age youth who lives and attends college in El Salvador. Joe made
an appearance at the hall council’s quarterly open mic night, arguably
the hall’s most attended program, to rally the residents’ support. This
year so far, the hall has donated over $300 to Denis! All the proceeds
go to help fund Denis’ college education. While that amount may not seem
like much to us and our high tuition in the United States, in El
Salvador it is a significant figure! This would not be possible without
Joe as the link between the residents and Denis.
In sum, Joe Cotton is an outstanding figure in Bellarmine Hall who often
goes unrecognized for his great work. This is because Joe does not seek
recognition for his work, but rather does it because it is what he is
passionate about. And aren’t those figures typically the most deserving
of recognition? Even though he is graduating this year, his legacy as
“the guy who listens” will linger for years to come, especially when
former residents say, “Remember Brownie Nights at Joe’s?” Ooooh, yes.
How could we ever forget?
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