After a long cancer battle, former Hillsborough County commissioner, abused and neglected children’s advocate, Joshua House and A Kids Place founder, Dottie Berger MacKinnon, died last month at her home surrounded by her family. She was 71.

While her life and service in the community earned her much recognition coupled with one award after another, giving testimony to the kind of person she was, it was McKinnon’s tireless and relentless effort on behalf of abused and neglected children that will always top the list as well as continue to be celebrated by those she left behind. Her husband, Sandy MacKinnon, acknowledged his wife’s passion and life’s work resulting in the impact on both young and old when he commented on the support she has received.

“Having so many supporting Dottie’s dream speaks volumes of the kind of person she was,” he said. “I have been blessed with having her by my side.”

Most recently, Dottie was inducted into the Hillsborough County Women’s Hall of Fame and earned recognition for serving as a Hillsborough County Commissioner from 1994 to 1998 as well as on the Board at Tampa General Hospital.

Her unending effort on behalf of abused or neglected children has raised millions of dollars over the years, which led to the building, continued support and full operation of Joshua House in 1994, a haven in Lutz for children removed from their families.

But, being true to her reputation, Dottie wasn’t done yet. Joshua House was followed by the opening of A Kids Place located at 1715 Lithia Pinecrest Rd. in Brandon in 2009. The facility boasts of five 3,200 sq. ft. homes located on five acres and utilizes a live-in house-parent model which provides the children at each home with consistency, while simulates family living and currently houses about 60 children, cared for by more than 20 employees that run the home around the clock.

As a special gift honoring his wife, Sandy placed a life-size bronze sculpture created by artist, Steven Dickey, at the Center’s front entrance depicting Dottie reading to a child on a park bench.

Beating cancer twice, Dottie remained active to the end, having a full share in making sure that the children she loved so much were and will continue to be loved and cared for even after she was no longer there in person.

A solid supporter of her dream and close friend, Hillsborough County Sheriff, David Gee, spoke highly of Dottie’s determination and accomplishments, especially A Kids Place, when he said, “Yes, it is a place, but it is also a dream of a special person who saw the need and did what it took to make it happen. She has been and will remain an inspiration to all of us.”

For more information about A Kid’s Place, or to donate, please visit, or call 843-1833.


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