Volunteering in Retirement: Manatee Literacy Council

Manatee Literacy!

Volunteering in Retirement with the Manatee Literacy Council

When I first announced on Facebook that I was volunteering for the Manatee Literacy Council, one of my friends joked, “Are you helping manatees learn to read?”

I thought that was pretty funny! The Manatee Literacy Council, based in Manatee County, Florida, helps promote literacy. The services are available for anyone who wants to improve their literacy skills. It is limited to human learners, though. Manatees will have to wait.

Conversation Classes, private tutoring, and a variety of resources and activities are available that empower learners, including the many who are not native English speakers.

As a lover of languages, I’m learning a lot, too! There are so many weird things about the English language – pronunciation oddities, unusual slang terms and expressions, grammatical inconsistencies – what a difficult language to learn!

I’ve been learning Spanish, myself (Duolingo streak is currently at 1777 days!) Now that I see how flaky English pronunciation can be, I’m very grateful that Spanish pronunciation is so much more consistent!

Why Volunteering in Retirement is Important

I’ve been somewhat obsessive about healthy aging since retiring. All the reports stress the importance of keeping our minds active and socializing to ward off dementia and mental health issues.

Research has found that volunteering can prevent cognitive decline, provide purpose and community.

I was surprised to find that I’d had a more difficult time finding volunteer opportunities that were a good fit for me since I retired than when I was working. I thought with so much extra time, it would be easy to find fulfilling opportunities.

The problem ended up being my very inconsistent schedule! With so much traveling, it was difficult for me to commit to a volunteer position that would allow me to really connect with the community. This became even more complicated when I fulfilled my snowbird dream and now have two different residences.

Volunteering with MLC: A Perfect Fit

Volunteering with the Manatee Literacy Council has ended up being the perfect fit for me. There is so much flexibility for volunteers. We can work as tutors, one-on-one with learners, in person or on Zoom. We can help in the online Conversation Classes that are offered 5 days a week or serve in various capacities to help the organization.

This flexibility allows me to continue volunteering during the summer months when I’m back in Colorado as well as meeting up with my learners in person when I’m in Bradenton.

MLC also holds events to foster community. Last weekend was the annual MLC picnic… and I hear, this year, a second one will be held in April!

MLC Potluck Picnic at GT Bray Park in Bradenton, FL

I love the diversity of people at these events! There are people from all over the world, interested in improving their communication and literacy skills.

Whether fellow-volunteers or motivated learners, every person has an interesting story!

Another benefit for me: I’m finding more friends who can help me learn Spanish. I requested that my “private learners” be native Spanish speakers and they have fun helping me learn, too!


Volunteering, particularly in retirement, is a great way to keep your brain healthy. If you’re a language-lover, check out your local literacy council to find out about volunteer opportunities. If you’re in Manatee County, Florida, come join us at the Manatee Literacy Council. And if you’re a manatee, well… impressive that you can read this blog post!

Email info@manatee-literacy.org to find out more.

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