Humanitarian Dorothy ‘Miss Dot’ Linson Cooks Thanksgiving Dinner for the People of Melbourne
By Maria Sonnenberg // November 23, 2020
Space Coast Daily Honors Selfless Volunteerism
No coronavirus is going to stop Dorothy Linson from cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the people of Melbourne, just as the beloved “Miss Dot” had done for just about two decades.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA –The whole thing started many years ago when Dot was a supervisor at the community center at Brothers Park in Melbourne.
Linson noted that many of the elderly residents who would show up for activities would arrive hungry, so she started to feed them, paying for ingredients out of her own pocket and making the lunches in her own time.
“It broke my heart to see them hungry and it made my heart feel good to see them enjoying the meals so much,” said the Melbourne resident.
The seniors started bringing family members with them, and those family members told their friends about the wonderful meals Miss Dot would prepare, so it didn’t take long for the number of guests at the lunch table to explode. Yet Dot prevailed.
The lunches eventually morphed into a super dinner the week before Thanksgiving, a meal in which Dot goes through 19 turkeys plus ham, plus the macaroni and the beans and the rest of the sides.
“Now the entire city comes by,” she joked.
They arrive for the food and stay for the camaraderie, catching up with people they know but had not seen in months.
From 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. that day, Linson will be feeding around 650 people.
She squirrels away some of the meals for the 250 kids that arrive hungry after school.
After all these years, Dot, with assistance from her five children and the occasional donations, still pays for all the food.
“Food is really expensive, but it is worthwhile,” she said.
She rises at 5:30 a.m. that morning to start cooking in earnest, but she has been staging the meal for several days before.
“I bake all day and into the night,” said the 82-year-old Linson.
A sister with a bad knee serves as her sous chef, and several neighbors and friends help her get the food to the community center for distribution. If illness prevents someone from attending, Dot will get someone to deliver dinner to their doorstep.
This year’s dinner will look different, and the fellowship that is a big part of the menu will be curtailed, but Miss Dot still plans to forge ahead with dinner plans.
One of 12 children in a hard-working Alabama family, Dot knows that feeding the stomach also feeds the heart.