The country watched with heavy hearts as the Tennessee wildfires claimed the lives of 14 people, while burning over 2,400 homes and businesses to the ground. Residents returned to find they no longer had a home, but also found out that Dolly Parton put a plan in motion to help take care of her Tennessee neighbors.
The country singer also setup the “Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund” telethon to raise more donations for the wildfire victims, which pulled in over $9 million.
I'm overwhelmed by your generosity! In total, we've raised about $9 Million for the folks in Sevier County. https://t.co/rDlnONHj5p
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) December 15, 2016
Parton’s actions in putting the spotlight on the Tennessee community devastated by the fires made one woman see the superstar in a much different way— and it prompted her to write one heck-of-a public apology letter to the country singer.
In an open letter posted in The Tennessean, Amy Rawe described how she used to feel about Parton:
“I’ll be honest. I used to think you were a bimbo. I used to think you flaunted your big boobs, teased hair, tiny waist, and your syrupy-sweet southern accent to sell yourself and your brand as a country singer.”
Rawe questioned Parton’s choice to open Dollywood, instead of something more meaningful:
“I’d heard about your origins as a poor girl from the hills of East Tennessee, and when I learned you’d created a theme park in your native Sevier County I rolled my eyes. ‘Really, a theme park?’ I thought. ‘As if roller coasters will really help the people of rural Appalachia. Why not create something truly useful to give back to your community, like a library.’”
In every season, inspire a love of reading in the life of a child! pic.twitter.com/jAKbGsT0lr
— Imagination Library (@dollyslibrary) December 25, 2016
Rawe points out that Parton’s Imagination Library recently hit the one million mark for giving books every month to children worldwide.
But it was Parton’s response to the East Tennessee wildfires that truly opened Rawe’s eyes:
“You made a public statement saying that you were heartbroken, while also expressing deep gratitude to the firefighters who protected Dollywood and evacuated everyone staying there to safety. Dollywood is the place I once dismissed, but now know is the largest employer in Sevier County and is the largest ticketed tourist attraction in Tennessee, hosting over 3 million guests a season. East Tennessee will count on that tourism to rebuild.”
Rawe now sees the impact Parton has has on her native Tennessee, saying to the singer, “Your generosity both reflects and inspires this region’s spirit and resiliency.” Parton did step up to help the people who needed it, just has she has done before.
Independent Journal Review has reached out to Rawe for comment and is waiting for a response. But from her open letter, it’s clear to see she’s a believer in Parton now. Rawe plans to make a donation to Parton’s “My People Fund” and even hopes to visit Dollywood with her daughter:
“I can’t imagine a more inspiring place to be, or a better way to support an amazing example of what it looks like to make the world a stronger place, starting with your own sweet community.”
Rawe closes out her apology letter to Parton by saying:
“Dolly, I’m sorry I didn’t get you sooner—and I thank you for all you are, and all that you do.
Your biggest fan,
Looks like a valuable lesson learned when it comes to judging a book by its cover.