Crystal Senter-Brown
3 min readApr 12, 2021


I am a Black woman who adores Dolly Parton.

Now, more than ever

As I sat in what used to be the shoe department at our local Macy’s to receive my first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, I overheard someone saying “you know this is Dolly’s shot, right?”

I started smiling (of course they could not see it because I had on my mask) because Dolly Parton has been part of my life since I was a little girl.

I have always felt that I had a lot in common with Dolly even when I was younger.

Dolly and I were both raised about 15 minutes apart in upper East Tennessee.

We love writing songs and poetry. We love children and we know firsthand the power of a book in a young child’s hand.

And yes, we are serious about philanthropy! Especially at the community level, where it is needed most.

When Dolly first rolled out her Imagination Library, I thought they would have a lot of requirements in order to qualify to receive a free book in the mail.

But Dolly said:

“Send a book to every child.

Every single one.

Even the ones whose families can afford it.

Give everyone a book.”

Her Dollywood theme part was one of the reasons I did well in elementary school, because trips to Dollywood were often end of year incentive for children who did well in school.

As a teenager, her song “I will always love you” because it was the soundtrack to many heartbreaks as a teenager. 😂😂

And now, even though I have not lived in Tennessee in more than 27 years, Dolly is still impacting my life by funding the vaccine I received on Friday. Talk about caring for the WHOLE person!

Dolly is a lesson for all of us who truly want to make an impact in our communities.

In order to TRULY empower the people, you have to meet them on different levels, in different ways, right where they stand.

Sometimes it will be something small like a book in the mail or a plate of biscuits and gravy at a Gatlinburg diner.

Sometimes it is on a larger scale, such as building an entire theme park in the Smoky Mountains for families from around the world to enjoy. (By building Dollywood, Dolly also ensured the people in that area will always have income due to tourists.)

And now, Dolly’s donation is responsible for funding a vaccine that will save millions of people.

I have always been proud of being raised in Tennessee, but today, I’m standing a little bit taller thanks to Dolly Parton!