Seriously, what’s not to love about Dolly Parton? Not only has the country star literally written thousands of songs, but she has used her celebrity and wealth to do everything from covering tuition for her Dollywood employees to investing her “I Will Always Love You” royalties into a Black community in Nashville. Parton received the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy at Gotham, and despite her long list of good deeds, she wants other people working to make this world less of a nightmare to get their time in the spotlight.
“I don’t do it for attention,” she told the Associated Press before receiving the award on Thursday night. “But look! I’m getting a lot of attention by doing it.” She said that she gets “paid more attention than maybe some others that are doing more than me,” she explained.
As to how Parton decides which causes to support? “I just give from my heart,” she said. “I never know what I’m going to do or why I’m gonna do it. I just see a need and if I can fill it, then I will.” For example, one of her most well-known philanthropic endeavors deals with child literacy, which was inspired by her own father’s reading challenges.
“This actually started because my father could not read and write and I saw how crippling that could be,” she said. “My dad was a very smart man. And I often wondered what he could have done had he been able to read and write. So that is the inspiration.” Parton’s Imagination Library sends out roughly 2 million free books a month globally.
This is where Parton doesn’t mind a little credit, as long as it gets the word out: “ “I’m proud to be the voice out there doing what I can to get more books into the hands of more children.”
Parton is set to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame November 5, but she’s already a star in her own right with her outreach work. “I think it’s important for everyone to do their share to help their fellow man,” she said. “This world is so crazy. I don’t think we even know what we’re doing to each other and to this world.”
“That’s what we should do as human beings,” she continued. “I never quite understood why we have to let religion and politics and things like that stand in the way of just being good human beings. I think it’s important from that standpoint just to feel like you’re doing your part, doing something decent and good and right.”
It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it. Luckily, it looks like Parton won’t let life’s road bumps stop her from giving back to underserved communities.