CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Screaming sirens and the sound of gunshots were the norm for 9-year-old Aleeshia Watson growing up in Charleston's roughest housing project.
The crack cocaine trade was king in 1991, and brought with it record crime rates and an unwilling audience to its havoc in the Orchard Manor community on the West Side.
"I wasn't exactly scared, it was just reality for me. I guess you become a product of your environment and get used to it. You grow up poor, but you don't know you are," Watson said, reflecting on her childhood.
Inside her grandparents' Orchard Manor apartment, a young Watson dreamed of a modeling career and previously told the Gazette-Mail she wanted to be president.
Local city officials were dedicating thousands of dollars to provide kids like Watson a haven from the drug-riddled neighborhood through after-school activities.
Twenty years later, it's Watson, 30, better known as "Leeshia Lee," who has seized the reins to help people in her "hood" find alternatives to drugs and violence.
In an effort to demonstrate to people in the community that they don't have to leave West Virginia to make a difference, or turn to drugs and violence, Watson recently founded "Gold Mind Promotions LLC."
"People think you have to go out of town to be successful in whatever you want to do, but you can do it wherever you are. 'If you think it, we can create it' -- that's our slogan," Watson said.
From 9-year-old dreamer to local celebrity as a disc jockey and assistant program director of Charleston radio station 98.7 FM "The Beat," Watson's voice is heard by thousands.
"The Beat" features a mix of Billboard Top 40, hip hop and R&B and attracts a significant minority audience. It's the only station of its kind in the state.
Her entrepreneurial endeavor with Gold Mind is an effort to help locals, businesses and events achieve success. It will encourage dreamers to dream and creative people to create, she said.
"If everyone talented and creative leaves, where will that leave West Virginia?" Watson asked.