NASHVILLE (EON) – Country singer Dolly Parton has given nearly 900 families each after they were forced from their homes by deadly wildfires in Tennessee last year.
The singer-songwriter said the last payments had been made this week to help those affected by the devastating blazes.
The singer said in a statement that the final distribution of checks was made this week to families in Sevier County to help them rebuild. The Country Music Hall of Fame singer started the My People fund after wildfires struck in November, killing 14 people in the Gatlinburg area and destroying or damaging thousands of buildings.
Now, Parton has announced the creation of the Mountain Tough organization. Dedicated to longterm relief, the organization provides ongoing support for families over the next three years. She promised to fund it with at least $3 million.
Mountain Tough begins June 1 with a focus on low-income families. Case managers identify those who most need support while the community rebuilds after the devastation.
“It makes me feel humble,” Parton told USA Today. She says she’s proud she can help. “But I don’t put myself on any kind of pedestal for doing this,” she adds. “Because it’s the right thing to do. I’m a Smoky Mountain girl, and I’ve been blessed in my life to become a celebrity. And when you’re in a position to help, you should help.”
“We want to provide a hand up to all those families that have lost everything in the fires,” Parton said in a video urging support posted immediately after the fires. An update posted to her website in mid-December said the Fund had raised over $9 million following a telethon hosted by Parton which featured Kenny Rogers, Chris Stapleton and Cyndi Lauper. Four days later she announced “hundreds” of checks had been distributed.
@DollyParton love you Dolly! I wish I had more money to give but I know every bit helps! Mountain Tough!!!
— Cindy Moody (@MoodyCindy) December 14, 2016
“We are partnering with the Mountain Tough Recovery Organization, which leaders of Sevier County and the cities of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville formed to address some of the longer-term needs for residents affected by the fire, like housing, employment, and counseling,” she says about the new foundation, which will focus on long-term recovery. “And we’ll get there, because that’s what us mountain folks do.”