Social worker turned Dartmouth entrepreneur keeps giving back

Published on March 6, 2017

Robyn McAuley is giving back through volunteering and her business.

©Jeff Harper/Metro

Robyn McAuley describes herself as fortunate to have found a way to mix her two greatest passions.

She operates a tanning salon in Dartmouth by day, and puts her social work background to use in her off-time and via her business.

McAuley came to Halifax as a university student 12 years ago. She volunteered at the Nova Scotia Forensic Hospital, the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility and with the Elizabeth Fry Society.

As a social worker, she spent seven years working in the city’s homeless shelters and continued volunteering.

So when she decided to take a step back from social work and opened her own business in November, McAuley said it was natural she’d still find ways to give back.

“All these years I’d been maintaining volunteer work through the community…with victims services, I did some volunteer work with the community justice society, and have now transitioned to be on the board of directors,” she said.

She also keeps busy volunteering with her canine companion, a St. John Ambulance certified pet therapy dog.

In addition she recently became involved with Out of the Cold.

“What I’ve been able to do is integrate that into the business that I have to keep that community tie,” she said.

In December, her salon ran a “tan for a can” promotion for the food bank. From now until the end of April, they’re giving away lotion in exchange for shelter items.

“We’re having folks bring in donations for the Out of the Cold shelter which have gone from clothing to money and right down to the things the shelter really specifically needs such as lip balm,” McAuley explained.

Every second Monday, she takes the donations to the shelter. To date clients have donated a variety of things, including bus tickets, winter jackets, art supplies and fresh fruit.

“There are things people don’t think about, so we keep a list here…It’s a good way for people to see how they’re giving back to the community,” McAuley said.

She intends to host other awareness and fundraising campaigns this spring, another for the food bank and one for a local animal rescue group.

“It’s not just about me collecting donations and dropping them off to Feed Nova Scotia or shelters, but people really feeling they are contributing to really important things happening in the community,” she said.

“A lot of people are asking about the organizations, where to go, how to help. It’s really a piece of awareness.”

An email from Jenelle McAuley noted: “Robyn is the perfect example of how you always return to your roots. Through her business venture she is trying to shed light on community organizations and raise more awareness.”