The following post is an excerpt from an article by Dan Smith entitled "The Next Chapter" which originally appeared in The Roanoker Magazine Women's Issue of April 2017.
Michelle Belton was the first female auctioneer in Virginia with a license, but that wasn’t the Next Chapter; not even close. She was just 23 then. She already had a five-year-old child and had attended 18 schools in 10 years as a PK (preacher’s kid). Her GED allowed her to attend auctioneering school and learn to work the “business of pawnbroker and gemological assessment and grading of gems and jewelry.”
She “conducted auctions ranging from guns, antiques and tools for a Russian gem dealer. She also sold Russian artifacts to art auctions. By 25, she had certificates allowing her to grade and appraise diamonds and colored stones. She managed a jewelry store for 10 years and when she became “bored with selling rich ladies big diamonds” she moved to a position as sales supervisor of “up to 85 employees at a call center.” ‘Course, she hated that and “desperately wanted out … I knew there was something more for me out there.”
All the while, she volunteered with organizations like Meals on Wheels, working with the elderly. She took a course from the Small Business Administration, and “that was the start of a complete reinvention of my life.”
In 2004, she opened Companion Home Care Inc. in a small business incubator. I “decided to narrow my focus from not just ‘non-medical’ help with daily living for seniors to a specialty in understanding dementia and Alzheimer’s.” She is a Certified Dementia Practitioner, “which gives me a group of like-minded individuals belonging to the [national association] to help further my mission in this disease.”
As a result of all this, “I am no longer afraid to take on large tasks, buy a one-way ticket to Maui, introduce myself and shake hands with the biggest VIP in a room and every now and again, give myself permission to take a day and do nothing.”