Born in Izhevsk Russia, a little Jewish girl named Xenia Vorotova dreamed of coming to the United States of America one day. Everything she had learned about the U.S., she got from music, movies or magazines. The dream became a reality when 17-year-old Xenia, her mother, and younger sister moved from Russia to New York City.
Although the women arrived ready and willing to work hard to achieve their goals, they quickly found themselves living in a homeless shelter and surviving off of food from the local church pantry. Xenia escaped reality by drawing and dreaming of one day becoming a fashion designer.
In the Spring of 1999, a social worker introduced them to Dorchen Leidholdt, the leader of Sanctuary for Families, a nonprofit organization designed to help immigrant women.
Dorchen helped Xenia’s mother find an accounting job, and after seeing the drawings done at the homeless shelter, helped Xenia get enrolled in FIT, a renowned college of art, design, business, and technology. She also helped Xenia’s little sister get enrolled in Columbia University.
By 2000, the women were able to leave the homeless shelter and move into an apartment in the Lehman Projects in Harlem. Although the Projects were in gang territory, the women felt this was a step up. The girls each had their own bedroom, which they had never had before. By the end of 2000, Xenia adopted her official nickname-Doe Deere. In 2008, Doe Deere founded her own makeup company called Lime Crime, which employed 35 people in Los Angeles.
Xenia thanks America for giving her, an immigrant, the opportunity to pursue her dream-the American Dream. Over the past 20 years, she has worked tirelessly and now has a successful business, beautiful home, and her family who all still stick together.
Stories like Xenia’s are why immigrants worldwide are willing to risk all to come to America. Don’t forget that not all Americans started as Americans. Sometimes those who risk everything and walk the most difficult path to citizenship, turn out to be some of the reasons America is so great.