+

Residents of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which has been battered by deadly wildfires for days, are getting some much needed help from their most famous neighbor.

Dolly Parton. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

In a video and written statement released this week on her foundation's website, award-winning singer and actor Dolly Parton announced the creation of a fund to help the region rebuild, even as the fires continue to rage.


"I have always believed that charity begins at home," the singer said. "That’s why I’ve asked my Dollywood Companies — including the Dollywood Theme Park, and DreamMore Resort; my dinner theater attractions including Dixie Stampede and Lumberjack Adventure; and my Dollywood Foundation to help me establish the 'My People Fund.'"

The fund aims to provide residents who lost their homes to the fire $1,000 every month for six months, to help them rebuild.

The fires have already claimed seven lives, injured dozens, and damaged hundreds of buildings since they began spreading on Monday.

A birdcage sits among debris burned by the Gatlinburg wildfires. Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images.

Severe drought conditions in the region helped the flames, which appear to have been human caused, sweep into downtown Gatlinburg quickly and without warning.

Several people remain missing, giving families with elderly or less mobile relatives special cause for concern. In some cases, they've already had to confront the worst.

According to a WKRN report, victims of the blazes have included both locals and tourists — many of whom come to the area to visit its ski resorts and Parton's Dollywood amusement park.

Fire officials have yet to determine when displaced residents — that number over 10,000 — will be able to return to their homes.

Meanwhile, many locals have expressed frustration that their plight has been ignored or downplayed by the national press — as Jason Howard, a writer with family ties to the area, expressed in an opinion piece published yesterday in the New York Times.

"For most folks like me, this calamity is less about the lost jobs than about the lost memories of a place of great beauty, in a part of the country that sorely needed it," Howard wrote.

Parton's pledge not only stands to make the rebuilding process bearable for families who lost everything, it brings some much-needed attention to the area's struggle.

Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images.

Much like her earlier advocacy for LGBT rights, the singer is hoping to leverage her star power to do some good for the people she knows and loves best, calling the region, "the same mountains where I grew up and where my people call home."

Parton plans to release more details on her plan to aid the displaced families soon, according to her statement.

The people of East Tennessee have been asking America to listen for days.

Now, at last, they have a powerful voice on their side.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

Keep ReadingShow less

People have clearly missed their free treats.

The COVID-19 pandemic had us waving a sad farewell to many of life’s modern conveniences. And where it certainly hasn’t been the worst loss, not having free samples at grocery stores has undoubtedly been a buzzkill. Sure, one can shop around without the enticing scent of hot, fresh artisan pizza cut into tiny slices or testing out the latest fancy ice cream … but is it as joyful? Not so much.

Trader Joe’s, famous for its prepandemic sampling stations, has recently brought the tradition back to life, and customers are practically dancing through the aisles.


On the big comeback weekend, people flocked to social media to share images and videos of their free treats, including festive Halloween cookies (because who doesn’t love TJ’s holiday themed items?) along with hopeful messages for the future.
Keep ReadingShow less

She's enjoying the big benefits of some simple life hacks.

James Clear’s landmark book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” has sold more than 9 million copies worldwide. The book is incredibly popular because it has a simple message that can help everyone. We can develop habits that increase our productivity and success by making small changes to our daily routines.

"It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis,” James Clear writes. “It is only when looking back 2 or 5 or 10 years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.”

His work proves that we don’t need to move mountains to improve ourselves, just get 1% better every day.

Most of us are reluctant to change because breaking old habits and starting new ones can be hard. However, there are a lot of incredibly easy habits we can develop that can add up to monumental changes.

Keep ReadingShow less