Local News

Family business an opportunity for son’s continued pursuit of reaching personal summit

By Albert Fulcher 05/17/2024 – The Alpine Sun

Summit Thrift store in Alpine is planning a store preview and BBQ on May 25. The new addition to the Alpine community, Summit Thrift will offer a variety of items, including clothing, household goods, home decorations, collectibles and more. But there is a larger vision behind this new business, a journey that started with Nancy Dorame, and her 20-year-old son Seth Farnum.

Dorame is the mother of five children. She said Seth was an easy baby meeting all his milestones as an infant and toddler. But then sometime, between 18 and 24 months old, she noticed all his babbling and speech ceased, and he would no longer make eye contact, not even acknowledging them when they called his name. First, thinking it might be a hearing problem, and during that time she said her pediatrician was in denial of what she already knew was not normal. She had to wait until he was 3 years old before they were able to get some tests done, learning that Seth was on the autism spectrum.

“As a mother of an autistic child, I am always looking for a way that my son can share the same life experiences that are not on the autism spectrum,” she said. “In a huge leap of faith and after praying about it over a year, I felt God impressed it on my heart to do this.”

Dorame said after leaving an Individualized Education Program meeting, and advocating for her son all his life, she felt that the unpaid internship program Seth was in was a good program, but on days that there were no job sites, he was bored, and would ask her to pick him up.

“I had been trying since he got out of high school, Liberty Charter High School, to get him employment or financial services from the various agencies in place to help those with developmental disabilities, to which he has been denied several times,” she said. “My Seth does not drive. He depends on me, whether it was this program he was in, or if he did have a job.” Dorame said they have tried very hard to teach him and help him be independent, and to become a great hard worker, which he is. “We went from very little hope from when he was first diagnosed,” she said. “There were times when he was adversely affected at appointments when something was administered. I ended up in the emergency room, urgent care, or back at the doctor because he had a rash head to toe, or diarrhea, vomiting, fevers, ear infections, ruptured ear drums.”

Dorame said after leaving that meeting, while she was driving, she was looking for somewhere that Seth may be able to work. But it had to be close to their home in Alpine. She said she saw all the fastfood restaurants and thrift stores, then realized that Alpine only has one thrift store.

“I thought Alpine needs its own mom and pop thrift store,” she said. “It was like this light-bulb went off. My heart was bursting with this passion that I must do this. This is what we are supposed to do. This is going to be more than any therapy session. He will be able to really use his communication skills daily, his life skills, the ins and outs of managing a business, so what better job training than hands on. I always knew that Seth was going to do something big and that he was going to be destined for something great. But this is also more than just a store.”

Dorame said she hopes this endeavor gives other families hope.

“If we grow, our purpose is to ultimately model the program Seth was in, and to be able to bring in young adults after they graduate high school and are not going to college, and are on the spectrum, to be able to provide a program to come here to Summit Thrift and get that training,” she said. “And God willing, possibly employment. That is the ultimate goal.”

Dorame said the five of them, with two of their children grown, married, and out of state, that her husband Rusty Farnum, and his two brothers still at home, Tristan and Xavier, are creating this family business for Seth.

“We have all gone in there together and painted, put in new lighting, took off the bars because it used to be a gun store, and we are preparing it for him,” she said. “All the people that I have talked to. Those with children recently diagnosed. This gives them hope”