BRADENTON, FL – Flavors of Literacy, the Manatee Literacy Council’s annual dinner and fundraising event, will be a vibrant but in-home affair this year as the event is held virtually throughout the Suncoast on February 21 at 6 p.m. Long driven by its mission to empower adults in Manatee County through literacy, the Council this year is carrying on despite the challenges of COVID-19.
While the pandemic is changing the format for this year’s event, the spirit that drives the Council to meet a critical need in the community continues. This year, the event will be virtual with the option to purchase an amazing takeout meal from Mattison’s Riverwalk. Guest speakers for the event include Bradenton Mayor Gene Brown and Chef Paul Mattison, who will share a special family recipe.
Participants will also have the chance to play Manatee Lingo – a localized version of Bingo with tutors and learners. Door prizes, including tickets from Southwest Airlines and a gift basket from ABC Liquors, will be given away throughout the evening.
For Manatee Literacy Council Executive Director Michelle McLean, the dinner is an important opportunity to update supporters and friends of the Council’s continuing good work in the community, even as they have had to overcome obstacles presented by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Even during these difficult times, our important work continues as we have expanded our online and remote efforts, found new ways to inspire and support our tutors, and launched a workplace literacy program in conjunction with Goodwill Manasota,” said McLean. “We have no intention of slowing down, with new financial literacy courses and programs on the table for 2021. All of these efforts require community support and we’re grateful for everyone who chooses to dine with us at this year’s Flavors of Literacy event.”
Participants can choose from several options at this year’s event. They can contribute $30/household to attend the virtual event or make a $75 donation to “attend” and to pick up one of two delicious dinner options from Mattison’s Riverwalk (meal delivery is available for an additional fee). Entrée options include homemade lasagna with red sauce or a teriyaki chicken stir-fry. Attendees may purchase a virtual table for $400, a price that includes event access and six takeout meals.
This year’s event is made possible in part by the generosity of platinum sponsor AMI Locals Luxury Vacation Rental Properties. For AMI Locals, the sponsorship underscores the company’s dedication to making a difference in the community.
“We are excited to partner with Manatee Literacy Council to help strengthen our community,” said Shawn Kaleta of AMI Locals. “I’ve seen firsthand how low literacy holds people back from reaching their potential and we want to do everything possible to give people a hand in learning to read. Reading with my own kids is a great gift – and I hope this donation will help others in being able to do the same.”
Manatee Literacy Council services are provided confidentially and free of charge to Manatee County adults regardless of race, creed, color, sex, national origin, or socioeconomic status. Manatee Literacy Council matches learners with volunteer tutors for one-on-one lessons. Since the beginning of the pandemic, these lessons have moved to online platforms, including Zoom.
“Our work of empowering adults through literacy is more meaningful when you meet our incredible learners – many of them have overcome huge obstacles,” McLean said. “Our volunteers provide support as tutors and, in many cases, as life coaches. These bonds often evolve into lifelong friendships. It’s a powerful thing to be able to change someone’s life for the better.”
McLean says that literacy is the gatekeeper to education, financial stability, health, relationships and empowerment. She notes that learners have gone on to secure better jobs and pass citizenship tests; being able to read to children or grandchildren is a monumental and meaningful achievement.
Those interested in more information or wishing to register for the dinner may do so by going to manatee-literacy.org/flavors-of-literacy.aspx or by calling (941) 746-8197. Dinner reservations are available through February 19. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, email MLC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Manatee Literacy Council is a volunteer-based nonprofit community organization dedicated to increasing the level of the functional literacy of adults in Manatee County. Through classes and one-on-one tutoring, we support the skills of reading, writing, understanding, and speaking English. Serving the community since 1978, we believe that literacy is the foundation of self-sufficiency and success. Our mission is to empower adults, their families, and our community through literacy. Visit manatee-literacy.org for more information.