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As a global ambassador for good and a country music marvel, Dolly Parton makes giving more than a passion project. For her, giving began from her earliest memories as a girl growing up in Sevier County, Tennessee. Although the family had meager means, as the Coat Of Many Colors songwriter immortally details, they gave all they could, even from their need, in support to friends and neighbors through the tough times. To her core, the ageless 77-year-old artist feels that giving is her life purpose. Even her birth necessitated a barter of oatmeal, for which the world is eternally grateful.
Of course, Dolly doesn’t just talk about a desperate need—she dives in and does something about it. Her initial $1 million donation to Vanderbilt University Medical Center under the overwhelming first surge of the pandemic facilitated the arrival of the Moderna vaccine, saving countless lives. The superlative act of generosity never satisfied Dolly Parton, though. In June of 2022, she directed a second million-dollar donation to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. This time, her intent was to eradicate infectious diseases in children.
These days, Dolly Parton continues to find ways to give. As KOLR Springfield per MSN confirms, Parton joins an impressive roster of donors to the Union Medical Center of Spartanburg, South Carolina, for the Patient Enhancement Project. Read on to learn how Dolly Parton’s personal connection to the project spurred her involvement.
Why Dolly Parton gets personally involved when it comes to patients
While it’s true that Spartanburg is more than a stone’s throw from Dolly Parton’s niche in the Smoky Mountains, it’s not surprising that this massive charitable effort caught her eye and her heart.
Back in 2018, Dolly Parton joined her niece, Hannah Dennison, to dedicate the tranquil butterfly garden in Dennison’s name, symbolizing her battle and recovery from childhood cancer at the Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
Surprisingly, Dolly Parton is on a short list of donors for the initiative, including local businesswoman Barbara Harter Rippy and J Carlisle Oxner III, President of Arthur State Bank. David Church, President of the Regional Healthcare System Foundation, described how “spaces of nature, calmness, and walking trails” are part of the vision to design “a more healthy, healing environment.” The timeless sentiments of My Tennessee Mountain Home prove that Dolly Parton understands the power of nature in healing. Every line transports the listener back to her home.
With a little help from a letter and some cousins
Naturally, Dolly Parton is inundated by endless requests on a daily basis. This project, however, had special assistance.
When Dolly received a letter from Bill James, a local physician in Union County, SC, where her mother was born and raised, it didn’t take long for the philanthropic “shero” to make a decision. Within 12 days, she “signed a pledge card and sent a check for $100,000,” James attests.
Naturally, it never hurts when a cause has a familiar name attached to it, and Bill James grew up with Dolly’s cousins. The doctor admits that getting his letter to the eyes of Parton happened “with their help,” he presumes. Nonetheless, Dolly Parton’s compassion extends to many people without names she recognizes every day, such as the patients passing through the doors of the Dolly Parton Center for Women’s Services in her hometown or the endless circle of children blessed by personalized deliveries of her books through the Imagination Library. Literacy is a generational gift.
Not an average day at Eakin Elementary
When it comes to dollars, a lot of difference happens in healthcare or scientific breakthroughs that benefit society. In contrast, a memory is a very personal gift that lives in the heart and mind forever. Dolly Parton bestowed memories to last a lifetime (or many lifetimes) on a bunch of very blessed kids at Eakin Elementary School in Nashville.
Once again, Dolly Parton stayed close to home to film her music video for What’s Up, the cover of the 4 Non Blondes number, written by the irrepressible frontwoman, Linda Perry. Although the kids don’t appear in the music video, every Eakin Elementary Eagle felt the aura of the local air change, as Southern Living via MSN relates.
“The minute she walked into the auditorium, the air felt different,” teacher Jane York insists. York’s daughter, Nora, in third grade, proclaimed “LOVE” for “this new song that just came out because it takes place at Eakin Elementary, which is my school, which is crazy!” the school ager proclaims in perfect vernacular.
Despite not being featured, students and teachers got to see the full filming of the video, and Dolly offered praise in a press statement, exclaiming, “Shout out to the little children that helped me with the video!” Parton concludes with a pointed question “If our children don’t make it, then what will?” Far and above her collaboration with Linda Perry, Dolly Parton puts a deeper purpose to the song.
Do you like the deeper dive of meaning in What’s Up? Are you excited for the release of Rockstar on November 17? Give a shout-out in the comments and stay connected with all things Dolly Parton with Country Music Alley.