Jul. 9—"If I can help somebody, then my living shall not be in vain."
That's the motto through which Velice Rene Cummings lives her life.
The lifelong Aikenite comes from a family of entrepreneurs, and she has carried that legacy on through her work in various sectors, including politics, consulting and planning, and her many efforts in the community.
Cummings' childhood was deeply rooted in her family. Her great-grandparents, she said, were the first Black Aiken residents to own a gas station in the area, which they operated for over 35 years.
Her family made sure she was grounded in community service, which she considers dear to her heart.
Her involvement in politics started early, getting involved with the Student Government Association at Aiken High School and becoming president of her class.
She attended Allen University in Columbia for her bachelor's degree in social science and pre-law, where she became the first female Student Government Association president in the school's 132-year history.
After graduating, Cummings spent time at Troy University, then called Troy State, to get her master's degree in human resource management.
As she finished her college career, Cummings started her business, V.R. Cummings Consultants. She described the company as an "event planning, wedding directing and consultation, political strategy and motivational speaking firm."
"The reason I started it is because I love to see a vision come together," Cummings said. "The Bible says 'write the vision, make it plain.' And so I believe in writing the vision, and I've got a chance to see so many of my visions come from dreams to reality.
"Just to be able to sow the seeds and to water them and just be able to see them come back is a blessing," she continued.
Cummings is currently a senior interface management specialist at Savannah River Nuclear Solutions after spending over a decade and a half with UPS Supply Chain Solutions as a procurement payment specialist. She always wanted to work at SRNS, she said.
In saying the site is big on community service, Cummings noted that she had the opportunity in 2021 to work as a loaned professional. SRNS paid Cummings her salary, but released her of her duties at the site so that she could go work with the United Way of the CSRA in Augusta.
"I was able to do daily tasks, be able to help in the community, raise funds," Cummings said of her work. "So, I was their campaign associate, the only one for 2021, and I went out to different businesses and asked them and solicited money for United Way."
Cummings has also been a radio host for over 20 years with WAAW Shout 94.7 FM, from which the inspiration came from her father, who was a disc jockey, as well as her love of speaking.
She is currently the producer of the Community Matters with Velice Rene Show, an hour-format show. Prior to that, she was the co-host of the Afternoon Gospel Drive, with Harry Hippie Hughes and Velice Rene.
"I educate and motivate our community and try to empower the masses and (let them know about) different community events so that they'll know what's going on," Cummings said. "I think that's very important to keep people engaged."
Cummings said one of her favorite parts about her show is that members of the community can call in and talk to her.
Besides her radio show, Cummings has also traveled across the United States to speak at numerous engagements, both scholastically and civically.
Outside of her professional career, Cummings has an exhaustive list of boards, programs and chapters she's been involved in throughout her time in Aiken.
Cummings is the past president of the Kappa Upsilon Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority in Aiken, and is currently the Cluster Vl coordinator of the sorority's South Atlantic Region. In that role, she is over 27 chapters "to make sure that they are functioning and carrying out the regional director's wishes."
She is a member of the Mount Anna Missionary Baptist Church, where she was the youngest trustee and joint board secretary.
Cummings is a past member of the Aiken Design Review Board, Aiken County Tax Board, executive board of the Aiken County NAACP and the board of directors for the Aiken County chapter of the American Red Cross, to name a few.
In 1997, as a high school student, Cummings was a delegate to the team when Aiken was recognized as a All-America City. Cummings was also named as a 2017 Young Professional 2 Follow by the Aiken Standard.
Throughout her life, Cummings said, she has had several mentors who have had a profound impact on her life. Among them, she counts Aiken city councilwomen Lessie Price and Gail Diggs, Rosemary English, Beverly Clyburn and S.C. Rep. Bill Clyburn, D-Aiken.
While in college, Cummings worked for four years as a page for Rep. Clyburn's office. She also worked for Price in her 2015 campaign for mayor.
However, one of the women who Cummings noted as having a big impact on her is more known than the rest: Vice President Kamala Harris.
Cummings has met Harris on multiple occasions and had the opportunity to help her in her campaign when she visited Aiken.
In essence, Cummings has dedicated her life to community service, and she wouldn't have it any other way.
"Sometimes, it's very tiring, but yet, it's priceless," she said. "I wouldn't trade it for anything."
"I'm a woman of dedication and I've set out to be a woman of many firsts," Cummings continued. "I've been able to see that happen in so many different ways and I'm just looking to see what the future holds. God is ordering my steps."