TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Volunteer Florida, the Governor’s lead agency for volunteerism and national service in the state, is proud to announce Betty Mulligan as the 2018 Florida Volunteer of the Year. After 35 years of teaching, Betty dedicated her retirement to developing a free tutoring program in Martin County, allowing students to expand their vocabulary and improve their reading comprehension skills.

“Betty exemplifies selfless volunteerism and community service,” said Vivian Myrtetus, CEO of Volunteer Florida. “Her passion for literacy and her commitment to sharing it with an impressionable, influential generation of students is unparalleled in Florida and essential to the state’s continued success.”

Since 2017, Betty has worked with United Way of Martin County to enlist more than 80 tutors from the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). RSVP, part of Senior Corps, is one of the largest volunteer networks in the nation for people 55 and older. In Martin County, these volunteers provide crucial one-on-one attention and instruction to more than 200 students at five different elementary schools every year.

Betty trains the tutors and monitors their hours, as well as the students’ progress and completes necessary paperwork. She ensures the program’s success by administering pre-tests, analyzing the students’ strengths and weaknesses, and creates individual lesson plans and specific goals. To measure results, Betty and her team of volunteers offer a post-test at the end of the school year. In 2015-2016, 92 percent of students in the program achieved or exceeded their goals, becoming fluent and often proficient readers, increasing their overall confidence and self-esteem.

In 2018, Betty plans to advance the program in Martin County by recruiting more than 100 tutors, providing early intervention to younger students and incorporating helpful technology, such as iPads.