Dolly Parton, the legendary country music icon, is not just a gifted artist known for hits like “I Will Always Love You” and “Jolene.” She’s also a shining example of a modern-day philanthropist, constantly finding ways to give back and make the world a better place. Despite her reluctance to be put on a pedestal, Parton’s genuine and impactful charitable efforts have left an indelible mark on society. From promoting literacy to aiding disaster relief, here are six remarkable instances where Dolly Parton used her influence and resources to create positive change.
1. The Imagination Library: Fostering Literacy from Early On
In 1995, Dolly Parton initiated the Imagination Library, a program that provides free books to children from birth until they start school. Inspired by her father’s inability to read and write, Parton’s aim was to gift the joy of reading to children worldwide. “I started that from a tender place in my heart,” Parton shared, explaining that involving her father in the initiative was a way to honor his memory and help children learn to read at an early age.
2. Donations to Nashville’s Neighborhood: An Act of Empowerment
Dolly Parton’s iconic song “I Will Always Love You” not only resonated with millions but also served as the source of her philanthropic gesture. In honor of Whitney Houston’s rendition of the song for the film “The Bodyguard,” Parton invested a portion of the royalties into a Black neighborhood in Nashville. This gesture highlights her commitment to uplifting marginalized communities and using her platform to make a positive impact.
3. Contribution to Vanderbilt University Medical Center: Fighting Against COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic posed unprecedented challenges globally, and Dolly Parton played a significant role in the fight against the virus. Her $1 million donation to Nashville’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center contributed to the creation of the Moderna vaccine, a crucial step in combating the pandemic. Parton’s support showcased how celebrities can leverage their resources to support scientific advancements and public health.
4. Dollywood Foundation: An Ongoing Legacy of Giving
Establishing the Dollywood Foundation in 1988 marked one of Dolly Parton’s most impactful achievements. This foundation encompasses a range of initiatives, including the Imagination Library, the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary for avian conservation, and numerous scholarship programs for children. Through the Dollywood Foundation, Parton continues to demonstrate her dedication to education, environmental preservation, and community empowerment.
5. The Buddy Program: Transforming Education and Lives
In 1991, Dolly Parton introduced the Buddy Program in her hometown of Sevier County, Tennessee. By offering seventh and eighth graders the incentive of a cash reward if they both graduated high school, Parton reduced the dropout rate significantly. Her Buddy Program’s success transformed the educational landscape, fostering higher graduation rates and improving the prospects of countless students.
6. The My People Fund: Rebuilding Lives After Disaster
Dolly Parton’s My People Fund exemplifies her commitment to helping communities during times of crisis. In response to the devastating wildfires that swept through the Smoky Mountains in 2016, Parton pledged $1,000 per month for six months to families who lost their homes. She also organized a telethon that raised millions of dollars to aid in the recovery and rebuilding efforts.