Cynthia Cumming is the owner of Nifty Thrift Shop, in which all profits go towards a PTSD program she owns in the Philippines. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Cynthia Cumming is the owner of Nifty Thrift Shop, in which all profits go towards a PTSD program she owns in the Philippines. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

How one Langford thrift shop is connected to a small island in the Philippines

The grand opening of Nifty Thrift Shop is on Nov. 1 at 10 a.m.

A new thrift shop is coming to town, but with a twist – all profits directly benefit an overseas PTSD program.

“Nifty Thrift Shop is a non-profit, not a business,” says owner Cynthia Cummings. “This is the perfect opportunity to help our veterans, just in time for Remembrance Day too.”

The mother of six is a military wife. Her husband, Wayne Cummings, has served in the army as a physician assistant for 25 years and counting. Her friends have previously served and one of her children currently works in the navy.

But life turned upside down when their eldest son, Kevin, died by suicide in 2011. As a former member of the army, he had been diagnosed with PTSD. His death sent shockwaves through their friends and family.

ALSO READ: Veteran-owned brewing company aims to ‘leave no one behind’

“Wayne didn’t really get the chance to process the death as he was working constantly overseas and one day out of the blue, he called me. He said, ‘I’m done working my life away. Let’s travel and see the world.’ I thought it was crazy, but I jumped on board.”

Cynthia sold most of their belongings, except their family home, in a single month. Once Wayne came home, Cynthia gathered three of their kids at the dinner table and took out a globe and spun it. She closed her eyes and placed her finger down. She opened her eyes and saw that she was pointing at the Philippines.

Cynthia Cummings chose where their family would travel to by spinning a globe and randomly placing her finger on the Philippines. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

In the spring of 2012, they bought one-way tickets, nailed down a rental home, and landed on Tablas Island, nearby Boracay, a popular hot-spot for tourists. They quickly found a hospitable community that welcomed them into the neighbourhood.

“As we were settling in and looking out into the ocean, Wayne turned to me with tears in his eyes and said, ‘I think we found our home.’”

READ MORE: Victoria veteran begs people to please not touch his service dog

Being in nature and enjoying the island activities helped Wayne naturally transition to civilian life. They soon bought their own property with four acres of land and began developing the area. Over the next few years, Wayne would host veteran friends.

“After his friends were here, they felt healed. There was something about being here together and being immersed in the culture that really helped.”

The couple hired locals to build a pool and turned a once barren part of the island into a haven. Cynthia began studying to get a yoga certification and her best friend and daughter joined too.

“Before we knew it, we had become a retreat of sorts, complete with team-building exercises, yoga meditations, and community outreach activities.”

In 2014, they hosted their first retreat, called Alliance Adventure Retreat, specifically for veterans and first responders affected by PTSD. Since then, they’ve aimed to host two to three retreats a year. The family regularly makes trips back to their Langford home to visit family and friends and recruit new applicants for the retreat abroad.

“There’s something special about these veterans being together. They connect on a level that is separate from how civilians interact. I’ve never understood it because I wasn’t in that world. For many, civilian life can be lonely. This gives them the chance to find that community they’re so desperately searching for.”

Each retreat accommodates 15 people over the course of 14 days. It costs $500 CAD for an all-inclusive experience, excluding flights.

In preparation for their next retreat in February, Cynthia was brainstorming ways to raise funds to help veterans who couldn’t afford the cost. That’s when it hit her.

“I love shopping and this is the perfect opportunity,” Cummings says. “Thrift shopping is in style now. Some veterans have dropped by to give their items and it’s really touching to see the community come together.”

And Nifty Thrift Shop was born.

Currently, they’re in a soft opening and are accepting gently-used donations, including men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, and household items.

The grand opening at 694 Goldstream Ave. is Nov. 1 at 10 a.m.

aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com


@iaaronguillen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Cynthia Cummings plans to have the grand opening for her non-profit thrift shop on Nov. 1 at 10 a.m. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Cynthia Cummings plans to have the grand opening for her non-profit thrift shop on Nov. 1 at 10 a.m. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Just Posted

Island Health has reported a COVID-19 outbreak at Saanich Peninsula Hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak hits first Greater Victoria hospital

Island Health declares outbreak at Saanich Peninsula Hospital

Athletes with Fairway Gorge Paddling Club’s open men’s staff head out on a high-tech outrigger canoe. The club raised more than $16,500 at its 2020 Wetdasche event. (Courtesy of Fairway Gorge Paddling Club)
Victoria paddling group breaks fundraising record

Fairway Gorge Paddling Club’s 2020 Wetdashe event raises more than $16,500

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by former Saanich resident surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

Kathy MacNeil, president and chief executive officer of Island Health, Dawn Thomas, acting deputy health minister and Island Health’s vice president, Indigenous health and diversity and Chief Don Tom of Tsartlip First Nation, stand out Saanich Peninsula Hospital Tuesday morning, when they also answered questions about a new report that “widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people” in the provincial health care system. (Island Health/Submitted)
Head of Island Health says Saanich Peninsula Hospital not part of racist guessing game

Tsartlip First Nations Chief Don Tom welcomes changes following report but promises future scrutiny

Greater Victoria 4-H club member Sava Bell is all smiles holding some of the garden fresh ingredients he used to make his award-winning dish for the Field to Fork Challenge. (Courtesy Agriculture in the Classroom)
Greater Victoria 4-H members among winners in provincewide cooking competition

Field to Fork Challenge encourages B.C. youth to prepare healthy, local foods

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

A man stands in the window of an upper floor condo in Vancouver on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners amid rising premiums

Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility

Dave Wallace coached the Parksville Royals for 23 years. (PQB News file photo)
B.C. baseball community mourns death of legendary Vancouver Island coach Dave Wallace

‘All who knew Dave and his passion for the game will miss him greatly’

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Most Read