“I just give from the heart” – Orange County Register
BY GLENN GAMBOA | AP business writer
NEW YORK — Dolly Parton laughs at the idea that she’s some kind of secret philanthropist.
Sure, social media sleuths found out this week that the country music superstar had been quietly paying for the band uniforms of many Tennessee high schools for years. And yes, it was decades before she revealed that she used the songwriting royalties she earned from Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You” to buy a Nashville mall to cover the surrounding black neighborhood support in her honor. Oh, and it finally emerged that Parton had donated $1 million to research that helped develop Moderna’s vaccine against COVID-19.
“I’m not doing this for attention,” she told The Associated Press in an interview just before receiving the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy at Gotham Hall in New York City on Thursday night. “But look! It gets me a lot of attention.”
In fact, Parton believes she gets too much exposure for her philanthropic work — which ranges from promoting children’s literacy to helping people affected by natural disasters to providing numerous college scholarships through her Dollywood Foundation.
“I’m given more attention than maybe some others who do more than I do,” Parton said, adding that she hopes attention inspires more people to help others.
In her Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy speech, Parton said she had no real strategy for her giving.
“I just give from the heart,” she said. “I never know what I’m going to do or why I’m going to do it. I just see a need and if I can fill it then I will.”
One need Parton focuses on is fostering a love of reading in children. Her Imagination Library initiative sends a free book each month to children under five whose parents request it. Currently, Parton sends out about 2 million free books every month.
“It actually started with my father being illiterate and I saw how debilitating that can be,” she said. “My father was a very smart man. And I’ve often wondered what he could have done if he could read and write. So that’s the inspiration.”
This program will be further expanded. And last month, the state of California partnered with the Imagination Library to bring the program to millions of children under the age of five in the state.
“It’s a big deal,” she said. “That’s a lot of kids. And we’re so honored and proud to have all the communities that make this possible because I get a lot of credit for the work that a whole lot of people are doing.”
Parton said she will accept this attention because it furthers the cause. “I’m proud to be the voice out there doing whatever it takes to get more books into the hands of more kids,” she said.
Eric Isaacs, president of the Carnegie Institution for Science and a member of the medal selection committee, said Parton is a “great example” of someone who understands the importance of philanthropy.
“Everyone knows their music,” he said. “You may know Dollywood more broadly for entertainment reasons. But now they will know them for their philanthropy, which they didn’t have before, I’m not sure.”
If Parton hadn’t made philanthropy a priority in her life, it might be difficult to balance it with all her other pursuits.
In March, she published Run, Rose, Run, a best-selling novel she co-wrote with James Patterson. She directed the Christmas movie Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas, starring Willie Nelson, Miley Cyrus and Jimmy Fallon for NBC. And she’ll be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on November 5 alongside Eminem, Lionel Richie and Pat Benatar — an honor she first turned down but then graciously accepted.
“I’m ready to rock,” she said, adding that she’s already written a new song specifically for this ceremony in Los Angeles.
But Parton is also ready to expand her philanthropic work. This year, she launched the Care More initiative at her Dollywood Parks and Resorts, which gives employees a day off to volunteer with a nonprofit organization of their choice.
“I think it’s important that everyone does their part to help those around them,” 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.”
Parton says she hopes the Day of Service will make people realize that “when you help someone, it helps them, but it can help you more.”
“That’s what we should do as people,” she said. “I’ve never quite understood why we have to let religion and politics and things like that stop us from being good people. I think from that point of view it’s important to just feel like you’re doing your part to do something decent, good and right.”
The Associated Press’s philanthropy and nonprofit coverage is supported through AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US and is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. AP is solely responsible for this content.
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/10/14/dolly-parton-donation-strategy-i-just-give-from-my-heart-2/ “I just give from the heart” – Orange County Register