Your Neighbor — Meet Shon Gilmore

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 29, 2019

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By Mandy Haggerson
For the Clemmons Courier

Shon Gilmore has always believed that things don’t just happen in life. There are no real coincidences. Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, Shon was embraced by her family in ways that impacted her trajectory.  “I was lucky to have the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my grandmother and great-grandmother,” reflects Gilmore. While Shon’s mother took classes in college, Shon had the benefit of being in close proximity to her extended family. “Because of the influence of my grandmother and great-grand mother, I learned things like quilting and made ceramics. They taught me to cook real meals,” explains Gilmore who appreciates the influence of three generations to help mentor and guide her.

Shon was very impacted by the women of her family’s value of giving back to their community. “I watched my grandmother care for others in the community. She would help other elderly neighbors with things like sewing or chores. I didn’t know any different than you are supposed to be of help to others in need,” explains Gilmore.

Gilmore knew when she set off for Georgia State University, she needed to find a major that would enable her to be successful and philanthropic. Her academic success in high school made Gilmore eligible for the Hope Scholarship. The merit-based scholarship allowed Gilmore to earn her bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations. It was during this time, Shon would meet her future husband, Chris. “We had a really good mutual friend and would hang out a lot. We were friends for some time before he officially asked me out,” laughs Shon. “Chris got his first job out of college, and told me he would be getting paid, and would like to take me out.”

Shon’s first real professional job after college landed her a position doing public relations for the Salvation Army. “While I wanted to help the community, I realized fairly quickly that the job I was doing wasn’t really communications-driven as I had hoped. I knew that I had to have a real marketing and communications job first before I would be able to help social service programs in the community. I needed to learn the public relations basics,” reflects Gilmore.

Shon and Chris’ relationship had continued to evolve during their time out of undergraduate studies. Chris pursued medical school, and Shon continued building her professional portfolio in the public relations arena. When Chris completed medical school, he and Shon relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee, where his residency would begin. “I went kicking and screaming knowing I didn’t want to live in a small town,” smiles Gilmore. “I ended up having the time of my life. I met the best adult friends. I participated in the most amazing travel,” recalls Gilmore. Gilmore eventually worked her way up to being the regional marketing manager for the eastern region for the HGTV and Food Network while in Knoxville.

The Gilmores would wind up adding another new city to their list of places to live. Chris finished his residence program in Knoxville, and found a one-year fellowship with Wake Forest University. “I initially commuted because I wasn’t sure that was where we would really stay long-term,” discusses Gilmore. “He loved it and was offered a full time position at Carolinas Pain Institute.” Also, Shon carved out a niche with her skillset, she and Chris’ partner started a national magazine publication on chronic pain management in 2006. “Chronic pain sufferers can feel very isolated. It was a way to discuss various therapies and provide a source of information,” explains Gilmore.

Gilmore’s role as an entrepreneur was expanded to mom in 2010, when her first son, Christopher Jr., was born in 2010, and Donovan in 2012. After Donovan was born, Shon still worked on the magazine, but also wanted to tap into her love of helping in the community. Gilmore began working for the alumni program at Wake Forest Law School. Always a believer that things happen for a reason, it was during this time she also learned more about a school down the road, Summit School. “During my oldest son’s kindergarten year, he was having trouble with reading. I needed help learning how can a child who has such an interest in learning be struggling. I wanted to put him in an environment where there was a smaller classroom size to have it further examined. What I learned was that my son was dyslexic. The Triad program at Summit School changed everything for him,” notes Gilmore. Gilmore was blown away by the tools Summit’s Triad program was able to provide for both of her sons. “I realized, now I know why we were meant to live in this area. There is not another school that is able to provide the tools that they do for kids with dyslexia on the east coast.”

While Gilmore relishes in those moments of watching her kids thrive, she still stays true to her passion about giving back to her community. Gilmore is involved with Jack and Jill of America, Inc. and the Links, Inc. “I really enjoy spending time with organizations that do social work in our city. I like using my background to help with fundraising and giving back my time,” notes Gilmore. Gilmore delights in providing hope to future generations that just because you weren’t born with financial resources, you can still make a difference and become anything you want to be through education and hard work.

Our neighbor’s continued efforts to help others while on her journey of life are a reminder of what’s truly important. As Maya Angelou once noted, “If you find it in your heart to care for someone else, you will have succeeded.”