Dolly Parton is many things to many people. Regardless if they know her by her music, her movies or just by name, Dolly’s presence in pop culture has never been stronger. But, to people like me, we love Dolly not because of her fame, but because of what she has done with it.
I grew up in the mountains of East Tennessee, where “Tennessee Mountain Home” ends the 5-8 p.m. slot on the radio each night. I can say first-hand the effect that Dolly has had on my life. Beyond the memories that I crafted at Dollywood, I have benefited time and time again from the kindness and charity she gives to the region I call home.
When I began working at Dollywood, I marked January 19 on my calendar immediately (Dolly’s birthday). I’m not sure what I had originally expected, maybe I was hopeful that she would come to Aunt Granny’s Restaurant for her birthday dinner (though Dollywood is closed, we could open it just for her!) or that she would visit for a birthday fireworks show. I knew that Dollywood would do something special to honor our Dreamer-In-Chief, but I had no idea how meaningful it would be.
What Would Dolly Do?
It is well known that Dolly does her fair share of charity each and every day. Whether it be her efforts in education through the Imagination Library, her disaster relief efforts in response to the Gatlinburg fires or her donations to medical research, Dolly is big on philanthropy. It seems only fitting then that to honor her 76th birthday, Dollywood took a page right out of Dolly’s sparkly handbook. The Care More Initiative was announced on the 19th, a way for all Dollywood Company hosts to adopt Dolly’s philanthropic lifestyle and spend a day of their own serving the community.
Care More, Be More
The Care More Initiative gives every Dollywood Parks & Resorts employee a day off with pay to serve at a nonprofit of their choice. This day of service can be taken at any point in the year and the company holiday will be recycled annually. Dolly inspires us every day to be more than what we were yesterday, to give more of ourselves to those in need, and this holiday is a great start. It is yet another showcase that Dollywood is not your average employer.
Dolly to the Core
Dollywood is Dolly’s passion project through and through. For 36 years, this park has been a symbol of her values and dreams. A place where family and friends can get together to create memories. A job site for hundreds of local employees. A company that gives back through its own foundations, much like how she gives back through hers. The Care More Initiative is the next step in Dollywood’s attempt to fully model itself after our Dreamer-In-Chief, and I feel we nailed it with this one.
I am thankful each and every day I work with a company that has been blessed with such a fine example for leadership. In honor of Dolly, I hope that the Care More Initiative is the first of many steps toward a caring and charitable future for Dollywood Parks & Resorts.