Dottie Berger MacKinnon, a woman dedicated to helping kids, loses her battle with cancer

Dottie was 71-years-old

HILLBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. - The Bay Area bid farewell to a woman who dedicated her life to making life better for thousands of children.

Many would say Dottie Berger MacKinnon was more of an angel. A former Hillsborough County Commissioner, she spent most of her life helping abused and neglected children.

Judge Tracy Sheehan was one of Dottie's best friends.

"This is a woman who got up everyday and volunteered 24/7 to make projects happen for the kids. Not to be remembered for that, not to have her name on some plaque, but because she believed and wanted to contribute to kids," Judge Sheehan said.

In the early 90's Dottie raised millions of dollars to open Joshua House in Lutz. It's a home for children that have been abused, neglected, or abandoned.

To keep Joshua House alive and running for years to come, Dottie also founded the  Joshua House Foundation to help continue raising funds to keep the doors open at Joshua House.

She wasn't done there. In 2009 she raised over 5 ½ million dollars to open A Kid's Place, a state-of-the-art facility in Brandon that houses foster children who have been taken out of abusive or neglected homes, and keeping siblings together throughout the process.

Today over 775 kids have been helped there. Judge Sheehan sits on the board.

"If Dottie were here she would call that her greatest accomplishment and no doubt objectively it was. To have a place in this community where children can come into the foster care system and bounce into a wonderful placement and hopefully bounce out to their next best placement," Judge Sheehan said.

After beating breast cancer, Dottie was diagnosed with cancer again 3 ½ years ago, this time bile duct cancer.

Doctors gave her three to four months to live, but Dottie of course beat those odds.
Just after 8:30 Sunday morning, Dottie decided it was time to go home to heaven, doing what she loved most until the very end.

"Right down to the end the last three weeks when she has been laying in hospice and literally on her death bed, she was still on the job, finishing stuff, insisting people coming over for a meeting. Insisting on taking care of this last loose end as far as some projects with respect to the kids," Judge Sheehan said.

Print this article Back to Top