Country music legend Dolly Parton and Boys Scouts of America Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca inspired Rotarians at the fourth plenary session on June 23rd to keep serving their communities and underscored the common bond their organizations share with Rotary, in philosophy and in practice.
After greeting the audience by singing her hit song "9 to 5," Parton recited The Four-Way Test, saying she also sought a "short, simple, and powerful" statement to guide the Dollywood Foundation: "Dream more, learn more, care more, be more!"
The philanthropist and literacy advocate went on to explain her foundation’s Imagination Library , which promotes reading among preschool children by providing them with a free book each month from birth until age five. The program, which has received support from more than 115 Rotary clubs, has grown from its base in Parton’s home state of Tennessee, USA, to other communities in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Parton said she was inspired by her father, who was illiterate but "one of the smartest people" she knew. "He knew it was a crippling thing not to be able to read and to write, so he was proud when people would call me the 'book lady.' And he lived long enough to see my dream come true with the Imagination Library. He was with me all the way."
Rotary Foundation Trustee Vice Chair John F. Germ, also from Tennessee, joined Parton on stage to present her with Paul Harris Fellow Recognition. "This is a wonderful friendship, us working together, and I hope to continue doing my part," Parton said. "Thank you for accepting me and believing in the program."