On Monday (May 7), Dolly Parton returned to her home county in East Tennessee for a special dedication of the My People Senior Activity Center in honor of Parton’s parents, Robert and Avie Lee Parton.
The Sevier County facility was formerly known as the Fort Sanders Sevier Senior Center, and the name change is part of a rebranding initiative with a goal to differentiate the center apart from other local medical facilities.
During her visit, she toured the center’s woodworking shop, briefly helped lead an exercise class and interacted with seniors working in quilting, wood-carving and wood-burning. She was even given a membership card so she could enjoy the same amenities that are available to other members.
“I’m a senior, too,” Parton, 72, said during the center’s dedication ceremony. “When I was over in Sevier County High School, I couldn’t wait to be a senior, and now that I’m in my second childhood, I’m a senior again. Anyways, I saw one of my old boyfriends from high school. He said, ’Dolly, you look like a million dollars.’ I said, ’Well, thank you. That’s just about how much it’s cost to make me look like this.’
“I’m proud to be a senior citizen,” she added. “Of course, we all wish we could stay 30 forever, but we can’t, so I think it’s important that we stay active, we stay with a good attitude and get out and stay involved, make friends and be whatever, and I think being a part of this whole thing is really great, and it is my pleasure to dedicate this to my people.”
Members of Parton’s family attended the ceremony, as well as Sevier County Mayor, Larry Waters, and Sevierville Mayor, Bryan Atchley. Plans to expand the facility are in the works.