Despite the conveniences of Baltimore for the Moores ("That's one of the other beautiful things about Baltimore," he says. "If you need to be in D.C., you're 45 minutes. If you need to be in New York, it takes two hours."), the nature of Wes' work means he's often left missing the cause he places above all others — his family.

Moore, a veteran Army paratrooper and captain, served a combat tour in Afghanistan, and empathizes most for military families.

"The people who have it toughest," he says, "aren't the military personnel. The families have it toughest."

Moore credits his family for one of the reasons he eventually left the military.

"A military spouse is a very different and specialized lifestyle," he says. "I knew my wife wanted something where I could be home — my deployment year was very tough on her."

Moore's mother recognizes the work her son is doing to make Baltimore a better place.

"He and Dawn have been our huge cheerleaders of Baltimore," she says. "There are a lot of young people here in Baltimore like Wes, like Lionel Foster [a columnist for The Baltimore Sun], like Esther Benjamin of the Peace Corps, who are making huge differences in the city. I think those of us in the older generation have to really sit back and listen and follow their lead for their vision of the city. It can be a wonderful city, we just have to sort of help it along."

Moore is a commanding presence — tall and muscular, he is a practiced public speaker and knows how to engage with people, especially young people. He looks you in the eye, and his mouth seems to be perpetually pulled back in the beginnings of a smile. A positive comment from Moore is like a shot of liquid confidence.

"The tech world in Baltimore tends to be 20 to 40-year-old white males," says Andrew Coy, who runs the Digital Harbor Foundation. "I've taught classes where I'm the only white person in the room. Having someone [like Moore] who comes from a similar background as these students, they see that — 'Hey, here's somebody that I know gets what I've experienced.'"

Moore's production company is developing a documentary about veterans doing military-style service projects at home.

"We have close to 70,000 troops fighting in Afghanistan right now — we're about to have a surge of people coming back home," he says. "I don't want this to be a doom and gloom story of PTSD and suicide rates." These veterans, he says, are "social entrepreneurs — it would behoove us to be smart about how we're utilizing that."

"The Other Wes Moore" is currently being developed into a promising feature film, with Oprah Winfrey attached as executive producer, and a script penned by John Ridley (writer of "Three Kings" and "Red Tails").

The book was about the ways in which people's paths can diverge, despite beginning in the same spot. It told the story of two men named Wes Moore. One is the subject of this article. The "other" Wes Moore was convicted of murdering an off-duty security guard on Feb. 7, 2000, and has been serving a life sentence without parole. The two Moores were both born in the Baltimore area and raised in the urban inner city; their fathers both died when they were young; they both were raised by single mothers.

Although Moore won't be heavily involved in the film's production, he has one request — that the film be shot in Baltimore.

"They could easily do this in another country," he says, "in a place where film production is cheap, like Toronto." But filming it in Baltimore is more truthful, he says, and he wants the opportunity to bring business to his hometown.

When asked if he'd thought about which actor he'd like to play himself, Wes smiles, bearing his altruistic side once again.

"I'd love to get some unknown actor," he says. "Someone, maybe from Baltimore, who's looking for his big break."


A call to action

Seven ways, hand-picked by Wes Moore, that you can help elevate Baltimore.