When it comes to the needs of people, Dolly Parton does more than talk about the problem. On the contrary, the country music legend steps into action with an impact that rivals white lightning from a Tennessee mountain still. The country music marvel has no patience for mealy-mouthed hand-wringers, she aims for solutions, with a very powerful personal touch, and she gets results.
Country Music Alley provides details of Dolly Parton’s philanthropy going several decades back. Like the irrepressible truth that pours from her songs, her generosity flows to those she lovingly calls “my people.” Whether her focus is to fund the vaccine to rid the world of the pandemic, or personally cut the checks she pledged to families most impacted by the 2019 Smoky Mountain wildfires, Dolly Parton is a “hands-on” benefactor. Millions of preschool children and families simply call Dolly Parton “The Book Lady” for her shipments of learning and literacy that arrive in mailboxes each month, like the ones in Ohio, recently shown to increase kindergarten readiness. The Imagination Library endures not only as the matchless songwriter’s honor to her father, but more importantly, as one of the most meaningful elements of her legacy.
As it happens, a large contingent of Dolly Parton’s “my people” live and work right in Pigeon Forge, TN, and numerous other localities of the Dollywood empire. This time, rather than a global situation, Dolly Parton keeps her dollars close to the heart and home of her Dollywood employees. The “Dreamer-in-Chief” of the family attraction favorite is making the dream of a college education possible in a very magnanimous manner.
Grow U makes higher education truly attainable, thanks to Dolly Parton
Shockingly, the wave of virtual learning that swept the world over the last three pandemic years hardly contains the cost of college learning. According to the most recent figures from CollegiateData, the average cost of attendance per year in a private college runs $54,000 per year. State college expenses can range from $27,000 to $41,000, depending on whether students are in-state or out-of-state. Beginning February 24, Dolly Parton and the Dollywood Foundation erases the woes of the financial burdens for applicants determined to further their education.
As The Guardian confirms, Dollywood employees who pursue college degrees qualify for 100% of their tuition, related fees, and textbooks covered. Additionally, those who pursue additional degrees in fields such as design, engineering, or hospitality qualify for funding up to $5250. The “My Tennessee Mountain Home” mentor proves once more that giving begins at home, and the Grow U program assures transformed lives for generations. Fortunately, over 30 “learning partners” join the foundation in offering degree options.
Dolly Parton wasn’t always so keen on her studies
Long before Dolly Parton earned acclaim as the ambassador for literacy and education, the matchless songwriter made it clear that she wanted to foster hometown careers. Early on, in the late 60s and 70s, she started scholarship funds for Sevier County high schoolers interested in higher education.
Ironically, the “Daddy’s Working Boots” songwriter never found a calling in the classroom of her youth. Even then, Dolly delighted in singing and standing in the spotlight, whether in a school play or performing at family gatherings. Faithful Dolly lovers know how her beloved uncle, Bill Owens, traveled from radio show to radio show, and many small stages in between, by the time the national treasure was 10. In fact, it was Owens who convinced her father that her gift was rare and worthy of her future in country music. As soon as she became a high school graduate, she set out for Nashville, and nothing in her life or music itself has been the same since her fateful choice. “I wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t been there,” Parton honored Owens in her heartrending eulogy last April, upon his passing.
Rose Byrne gives Dolly Parton big kudos
Understandably, Dolly Parton has adoring fans across every age and musical demographic, not to mention her status as a cultural icon. Among those adoring faithful is Neighbors and Bridesmaids star, Rose Byrne. The sultry, offbeat actress is also cast in the upcoming Apple Plus TV series, Physical. Instead of tooting her own horn, however, Byrne had incredible compliments for Dolly Parton when she described her film, Seriously Red, as noted by Variety.
Byrne touts her big-hearted but sometimes misguided character as encompassing the story of the underdog that is triumphed in Australian culture. She openly declares the film “A kind of love letter of Dolly Parton– she is sort of the only thing anyone can agree on these days.” The star further elaborates the themes of fluidity and identity that run through the story.
With glowing reverence, Rose Byrne gushes that Dolly Parton’s “legacy as a songwriter is unparalleled,” adding that “the narrative she brought to music from the female perspective is truly amazing.”
From Hollywood stars to Dollywood employees, no one disagrees!
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