Dolly Parton’s My People Fund presents final checks to families and makes a long-term investment in future recovery efforts!
Smokies Strong, a title the people of Sevier County, TN, have more than earned in the aftermath of the devastating wildfires. They displayed their strength and courage on the very night the fires started and have continued to do so in the following months.
The Dollywood Foundation established the My People Fund just 48 hours after wildfires swept through the county on November 28, 2016. Each month, starting in December 2016, the My People Fund gave $1,000 to every family whose home was lost or destroyed in the fires. May marks the end of the Fund’s six-month pledge to assist the recovery efforts. Due to the tremendous outpouring of donations and support, the My People Fund was able to increase the amount of the final distribution checks from $1,000 to $5,000 (per family). In total, $8.9 million went directly to wildfire victims.
Dolly was on hand at the CARE MORE Assistance Center on May 4 in Pigeon Forge, TN, to present the last checks to three families and to say thank you to the dozens of volunteers who have staffed the effort. Dolly said,
"We started the distribution in December right around the longest night of the year and I know it felt dark and lonely for so many. But here we are in spring, a time for renewal and a time for hope. I know the money helps but most of all I want people to know we will always provide you a shoulder to lean on."
In addition, Dolly’s My People Fund launched a partnership with the Mountain Tough Recovery Team to continue supporting these families in the coming months by providing $3 million for this effort. Dolly made this announcement during a special media event at Smoky Mountain Adventures in Pigeon Forge, TN, on May 5.
Wildfire Scholarship Fund
Additional contributions, outside of the My People Fund, helped establish and support the Wildfire Scholarship Fund. Thanks to these efforts, every high school junior and senior in Sevier County, whose homes were destroyed by the fires, will receive a $4,500 scholarship.
Today, recovery continues and rebuilding efforts are underway for the people who are and forever will be, Smokies Strong.
About My People Fund
The Dollywood Foundation’s My People Fund provided $1,000 each month for six months to Sevier County families whose homes were uninhabitable or were completely destroyed in the Smoky Mountain wildfires. Any family who lost their primary residence (renters and homeowners) due to the wildfires in Sevier County were eligible.
About The Mountain Tough Recovery Team
The mission of the Mountain Tough Recovery Team is to assist individuals and families recovering from the 2016 wildfires in Gatlinburg and the surrounding Sevier County area to rebuild and provide resources for other unmet needs for both homeowners and renters impacted by the fires.
Devastating wildfires claimed the lives of 14 people and destroyed thousands of homes and buildings in Sevier County, TN, on November 28, 2016.