Long-time supporter shares her giving credo and inspiration

“If we turn even one person’s life around and one kid gets back on their feet because we stepped in, wow, how do you measure that?”

Gayle Robinson of Robinson’s Outdoor Store, impassioned Power To Be supporter for more than 10 years, shares the seeds of her approach and beliefs in giving. When she purchased the family store, a legacy in dire straits at the time, in 2005, she avowed that if she ever “…reached this level, I’m a success; I’ve made it.” Three years later, she did.

“I thought it would be the best moment ever, but it was the emptiest moment ever and I realized that if you are not making a difference and you are not giving back; it is empty.”

In that moment, Gayle realized she could apply her business acumen to how she and the store gave. Instead of “here and there,” she could meticulously select, with deliberate attention, one well-suited organization to support well. “We need to be more than buying and selling stuff,” she says.

With so many vital non-profits in Victoria, Gayle set out to locate which was the best fit for Robinson’s Outdoor Store’s brand. But there was more to it than that. She was pointed towards Power To Be by another non-profit, and learned about Wilderness School, a three-year program that supports youth living with financial and/or social barriers at home and at school.

She had found her match. Having lost her mom at the age of 11, Gayle reflects, “I could have fallen through the cracks easily. There were people who stepped up in my life.” With a profound understanding of how critical it is for young people to have someone on their side, she shares, “You might be the one thing, the one person in my life who says that I matter.” She is also compelled by the three-year commitment, as “it takes time to have a real impact.”

Using the image of a turning circle, Gayle evokes an image of her having been supported as a young girl, and now, a successful businessperson and community ambassador with the initiative of ThinkLocalFirst; it is now her turn to pitch in. Brands that she respects and works with and her team have been onside to pitch in to their annual gear gifting to Power To Be.

“It is all about relationships,” she professes, “If the store is not supporting the community, then do they have the right to ask the community to support them?”

As large box stores and online shopping pervade, Robinson’s Outdoor Store’s ongoing success is a testament to her credo.

Power To Be has grown and is supported by so many really wonderful organizations because it works,” Gayle says smiling and matter-of-fact. “I thought I would have tears attending graduation watching the kids walk across the stage, it wasn’t that at all. It was looking at a mom watching her kid walk across the stage. Power To Be is not just changing the kids, it is changing the family. It’s the whole picture.”