To begin our Spotlight Series, we wanted to begin to highlight people in the community who we thought were already doing amazing things to make a difference, whether that be with their peers, community, etc. This week, we decided to focus on community member Adonijah Gilmore.
Adonijah Joel Gilmore was born in Martinsburg, West Virginia on November 20th 1993. Gilmore lived briefly in the middle part of the state in Clarksburg West Virginia where he attended Nutter Fort Elementary from 1st to 3rd grade. Gilmore and his two siblings moved back to Martinsburg in 2004 to live with their grandmother. Gilmore graduated from Martinsburg High School in 2012 and played varsity basketball for three years. Gilmore began his college career at Bethany College in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia and transferred to Shepherd University where he served as a Resident Assistant. Gilmore graduated with a Bachelors of Social Work in 2016. Gilmore is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Social Work through West Virginia University.
After obtaining his BSW degree, Gilmore was offered a paid internship with the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney’s office as a victim advocate. Gilmore is currently employed with the Institute for Family Centered Services in Hagerstown Maryland as a Family Centered Specialist. Gilmore has been an active participant in the Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle and has been a spirited worker in the community of Martinsburg. On June 2nd 2016, He was honored for his work in the community with a proclamation of “Adonijah Gilmore Day” by the Berkeley County Council.
M: So Adonijah, to begin thanks for taking the time to speak to me today. I’ve always seen your name buzzing around social media or the community so it’s a pleasure to get to speak to you.
A: The feeling is mutual! Thank you for inviting and having me! I am looking forward to working together to promote community unification.
M: Tell us a bit about your background in the community, how long you’ve lived here, and the one biggest change you’ve seen so far?
A: Well I was born in Martinsburg and was raised here for the most part of my life. Raised primarily by my grandmother, things where a little untraditional for me. I went to South Middle School and Martinsburg High School. Martinsburg is special to me because I grew up here. Mostly all of my family and friends still reside here so the place still remains intimate for me. One of the biggest changes I have seen so far is the decimation of community engagement opportunities. What I mean by that, is when I grew up there was always someway to engage the youth. We had different events at the local parks, I remember playing basketball at Ramer School every Saturday. There were just so many events to take part in. As I look now, I do not see that to the degree that it was when I was coming up. Now with that being said, I want to highlight organizations like the Boys and Girls Club where I spent most of my time as a youth and grew as a man. The Boys and Girls club has been essential to the making of Adonijah Gilmore. The Hub Center, which is rather new but is proving to be more important every day. And of course Martinsburg Renew for stepping up and attempting to attack the underlying reason of issues in our community and that is lack of activity. Also, I want to highlight an individual who is stepping up to the plate. Moises I have an abundance of friends who are doing their best to engage the youth. I could name a list of names but I do not want to leave anybody out. One friend in particular, who I feel I have to mention, is one of my brothers Jordan Robinson. Anybody who knows Jordan knows that he tries to stay under the radar but not this time. Jordan has proved to be phenomenal in the Boys and Girls Club. Talk to the kids there and you will see the admiration. You will see the adoration the kids have for him. He works diligently there out of PURE ALTURISM and it has a positive influence more than I think even he understands and that is to be never dismissed. There are many others too and they know who they are. It maybe bit of a platitude, but it really does take a village and I would say the village is stepping up and we should make sure attention is drawn to that!
M: What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs or philosophies about community engagement? Or just contributing to your surrounding environment in general?
A: One principle that I live by is that “it takes a village”, as I specified in my previous statement. When talking about community engagement it is imperative that it is an “all in” approach. When you have one ultimate goal, you focus on that. It takes activation and cohesiveness. However, it is totally reasonable to have different views and beliefs on how to obtain the shared goal. In fact, that is a good thing. We need to work together to implement change. Sometimes that gets difficult due to various reasons but there has to be compromise and negotiation. One fact remains however, the goal for the youth should be the same. One privilege we have living in America should be the diversity. Diversity in terms of race, gender, religion, creed, opinions, execution, etc. This is a prodigious trait for success and growth as community.
M: What would you say to anyone who is headed down the wrong path? What is one solid piece of advice you would give them if they don’t know where to begin to get things in order?
A: That is a good question! Well, the first thing I would make understood is that it is a virtue to be one with emotions. When you think of any self-destruction mechanism, the destruction happens when the energies have no way of outlet. We have to provide ourselves as a tool. We have to place prominence on the beauty in recognizing feelings and make that comfortable for any troubled youth. Many of these kids have stories, stories in some cases that were created for them. Cards that were given without intervene. It is important to place emphasis on that and let it be understood that emotion can be validated and never dismissed. Then I would let them know that they have the ability to write new chapters. Moy these kids need to know that they have individuals that believe in them. Some kids never had that and when they don’t have cherished influences, they will find them through some avenue or channel. We need to be that! I want to dedicate my life to providing that resource for them. I want to selfishly challenge myself to introduce a heart to these kids. They need that AND want that.
M: Were you always headed down the right path? I know personally I always had a little trouble, but I eventually got things together and made some changes. Was that the same case for you? What would you say your “turning point” was?
A: Was I? Absolutely not! One of my favorite women of all time referred to me as an imp often times through my childhood ha! That lady is my great-grandmother who the family refers to as “Mom”. Again Moises, everyone has a story. I have had my times of turmoil. I have been through life’s crucibles at a young age. Again, I had to validate my anger and emotion. After, I had to understand my potential and not misuse it. My turning point was being sent to transitional school in 6th grade by my soon to be head coach at Martinsburg. That was it for me. I didn’t want to be there. I knew that was not the place that I sought to be in in that stage or any stage of my life. Had it not been for the village, we would not be having this conversation. I am thankful the people that consistently uplifted me, Thankful for the people that held me accountable through all the years, the village that will be forever grateful for.
M: What is the best thing that’s happened to you since you started making a difference in the community? The worst?
A: The best thing? That is tough. I would say the best thing that happened to me since I made the choice to become involved is the people I have met in the process. There are some outstanding and influential people in this world. Not just this world Moises, but in our backyards and in our communities. One thing we know in the climate of today’s world is that what is negative is heavily propagated through various outlets. But the good individuals who discourage credit don’t receive their dues. They do not receive the illumination they deserve for their good works. We hear about the issues and problems and negative behaviors of some (which we should) but what we don’t hear enough about are the positive individuals that are working vigorously to make a difference in our communities and provide solutions. So to answer your question, I believe one of the best things that happened to me during this time is the opportunity to work with great individuals who share the same commitment to introduce positive change in our communities and ultimately our world. What is just as great and probably more rewarding is to the see the development, to see the ascension of the youth from what was once “troubled” to individuals with countless potential to change the world. To witness that the growth and understand that the best is yet to come is a pretty cool thing to observe Moises. It keeps me young and fresh! It is not about me! It is all about them! They should hear it too!
The worst thing? Well I try not to look at things from a negative point of view. I try to seek out the positives. It is heart wrenching to understand how REAL these issues are. Issues like addiction, crime, and violence. Naturally we want quick repairs because you see the concerns. You see the dire need for intervention and activation. What you also see is the division. You see people tearing others down when the focus should be building. You see that everyone doesn’t share the same vision or underlying goal for success for the community. I would say that is puncturing at times and discouraging. However, in quoting one of my favorite artists John Mayer, I do believe the heart of life is good. By believing that, through the hardest of times, I remain an optimist.
M: Tell me about someone who’s influenced you heavily and how?
A: Moy there have been countless. I could name so many. If you asked me for one person in particular, I would have to say my mother Regeana Wright. Look I am a ‘MOMMYS BOY”. She has been through the lowest point in life. She has been isolated for reasons that maybe she will share in the future. One thing I will say about my mother is that she is a fighter! She is a statistic. Not a negative statistic but rather a positive one. She is at the core of my life and my heart. She has uplifted me in her struggle and to see what she defines as success is both encouraging and reassuring.
M: To conclude, what is one thing you want to say to anyone or even any younger people in the community who don’t know where to start so they can make a difference? I know I personally believe social media can make a difference when used in the correct way. (not cyber bullying) I’ve personally seen some things that I wasn’t proud of, but I do understand that social media gives everyone a voice and it’s up to them with how they use it or influence others.
A: I would encourage individuals to use their platform and influence. My brother Trindin once told me that one of the worst things an individual can do is misuse their influence. That concept has always been true to who I am and always will be. Also Moy I would tell them that you don’t have to change the world in one day. Matter of fact, don’t try to because that leads to disappointments. Think of it is like a chain reaction. Moy, when I help someone in any form I make sure I urge individuals to “Pay it forward”. If we as people lived by that principle, the good in the world will begin to prevail over the evil. One day at a time, one life at a time. Change is slow. Always has been always will be. Realizing that is one of the initial step in progress. I believe we will get there.
It has been an honor to be with you on this day. I am grateful for the invitation and look forward to collaboration! Thank you again sincerely!
Thank you for your input. If you or anyone you know is interested in being interviewed for our community spotlight, or just something that you think needs to be shared with us in general.
Martinsburg Renew is a non-profit organization that hopes to enrich every member of our community. We are focusing on educating and offering opportunities for those involved with addictions. We want to offer opportunities to our youth to offer stable, positive role models and offer them alternative recreational activities to keep them actively involved in enriching themselves.
Our first project is a major undertaking. We hope to raise enough money and grants to purchase the Interwoven Mills facility, which is located on the 600 block of W. King St. and extends south of W. John St., and establish a Community Center. We are currently seeking funds and grants to put toward the purchasing of the Mills as well as to hold community events. If we are unable to raise enough funds within a reasonable amount of time, any money will be donated to other community-oriented non-profits. Donate Here