Hazel Whitt needed a boost. Unable to work due to an injury, Hazel was feeling a bit down on her luck. After a career as a health inspector, this grandmother of two from Austell found herself searching for her “what’s next”. While attending services at Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral in Austell, Hazel learned about the Bronner Business Institute and their NxLevel business training course designed to equip people with the fundamentals of business and business development. The 4-month program guides participants through the development of an effective business plan, including money management and providing technical assistance for financing a business. Hazel was interested, but going back to school after 40 years when finances were tight didn’t seem like a possibility.


AARP has a history of advocacy and community education around older workers issues and AARP Georgia teamed up with Word of Faith and the Bronner Business Institute to offer resources and information – and, in 2017, provided two scholarships for older adults to participate in the NxLevel training course.  As luck would have it, Hazel was a scholarship recipient. She surprised her whole family when she headed back to school and graduated from the training course in June 2017.  Hazel is now in the process of launching her own catering business, Peach’s Simply Divine Catering, and plans to officially open for business on October 7th.

Hazel, who regularly provides meals to the the homeless, hopes to use her business to continue to do good in the community and help others. Once she has the business up and running, she hopes to provide weekly meals to those in need. She says, “I’ve been blessed by this opportunity with AARP, and I want to be a blessing to someone else.”

When asked what advice she had for others who are looking to start a business later in life, 58-year-old Hazel said, “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Be creative and never give up – believe in yourself. You’re never too old to reinvent yourself.”

AARP has a vast array of resources for older workers and those looking to start a business. Check out our Work and Jobs site where you can access resources, search for jobs, and find out about online learning opportunities.

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