Volunteer of the Year finalists make a difference in their communities

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A passion to give back and make the community a better place unites FLORIDA TODAY’s three finalists for the Volunteer of the Year award.

Knowing that they could make the world a better place because of their impact drives Dorothy “Dot” Linson, Riley Renfro and Sharon Rivera to do just that.

Whether it’s 17-year-old Renfro nursing injured animals back to health, 84-year-old Linson feeding hungry children, or 65-year-old Rivera working with special-needs students, each of these volunteers has one in some way immeasurable contribution to their community.

Meet this year’s finalists:

Dot Linson knows the need

Linson grew up in Alabama, the daughter of a sharecropper. She was unable to finish school herself as she was expected to help with the cotton harvest and contribute to the family income. So she has spent her life making sure her children are educated and cared for, and even now works relentlessly to provide for others in her community as well.

Her belief in God compels her to help those around her, both to give back to God and to express His love for others through their own actions.

“I always prepare dinner on Sundays and always have enough food left on extra plates. In the summer I just always cook food for the children’s reading and feeding program. In the summer I prepare a nice meal with vegetables and meat for the kids,” she said.