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Dolly Parton Becomes a Girl Scout
Celebrity Also Honors East Tennessee Gold Award Girl Scouts
Knoxville, Tenn. (June 15, 2007): The most celebrated female country music singer and songwriter of all time has a new honor; Dolly Parton is now a Girl Scout.
"While I was never a Girl Scout when I was a kid, I always wanted to be," says Parton. "This great honor lets me live out a dream and lets me be part of an organization that stands for many of the same values I do."
Parton became a lifetime member of Girl Scouts of Tanasi Council this summer at Dollywood, her East Tennessee theme park. More than 1,000 Girl Scouts attended the event.
"When I was a kid, I wanted to be just like you," Parton told the girls.
But 50 years ago, there were no troops in her rural Sevier County community. Today, Sevier County has more than 500 registered Girl Scouts—even more are served through Tanasi Council's outreach program, which brings Girl Scouting to schools and other organizations.
"When I was a kid about all we had were our dreams, and I started dreaming early," said Parton. At just 10, she was a regular guest on a local television variety show. At 18, she left the mountains of East Tennessee for the promise of country music stardom in Nashville.
"Plan your life and do what you do best," Parton encouraged the girls. "I'm here to tell you that you can be absolutely anything you want to be. You may not want to be a star, but you do want to star in your own dreams."
Alone on a stage with her guitar, Parton performed her favorite song, "Coat of Many Colors." It tells the story of other children laughing at a coat Parton's mother had lovingly sewn from scraps of cloth.
"Don't ever make fun of people," a serious Parton told the girls. "Encourage people. Remember, their little hearts are just as tender as yours."
The icon then honored East Tennessee girls who have earned Girl Scouting's highest honor: the Gold Award. These Girl Scouts built on years of personal growth and spent more than 100 hours on individual community service projects to reach this pinnacle of Girl Scouting. Parton gave each Gold Award Girl Scout a certificate and complimented them on the badges and patches adorning their uniforms.
"Dolly realizes the importance of a program that helps girls grow into young women of courage and confidence," said Glenda McCarter-Johnson, board chair of Girl Scouts of Tanasi Council and Parton's childhood friend. "She wants to let these girls know just how much they are appreciated for the work they do for the community."
Finally, Parton was given her own honorary Girl Scout sash with badges and patches symbolizing musical accomplishments and philanthropy.
"I'll have to work awfully hard to earn all of these!" Parton said.
"No," explained McCarter-Johnson, "These are achievements you've been earning all your life."
Parton has been praised for her many charitable efforts, especially in the area of literacy. Her Imagination Library program mails one book a month to children from birth until they enter kindergarten. The program started in Sevier County and has grown to include 36 states and parts of Canada.
Many Girl Scouts were eager to see Dolly Parton because they had received those monthly books. One of them was Girl Scout Laurel Bise.
"This is awesome," she says. "You never know what you're going to get to do in Girl Scouting!"