A few weeks ago we had a beautiful and talented young lady come to present a program at our local Kiwanis Club. Her name is Laura Monteverdi, and she is the evening news anchor on KARK Television in Little Rock, our local NBC affiliate.
Laura is originally from Florida but came to us from KDLT in Sioux Falls, S.D. About six months after coming here, she had a very sad and tragic thing happen in her life. Her boyfriend Brock died from a heroin overdose in September 2015, and at the time was living thousands of miles away.
For the next few years she would keep her emotions bottled up inside. One day in Little Rock, Laura was in her car after dropping off some children that she picks up at school. She noticed a woman at a stop sign, and while no traffic was coming, the woman’s car didn’t move. People started honking, and after a few moments, Laura and a man a few cars ahead of her got out to check on the woman. As the man opened the woman’s door, her lifeless body fell out onto the pavement. Her lips and face were blue and she was not moving.
With a glance into the vehicle, they saw a needle and a spoon, and it became clear what had happened. Laura quickly called 911 while the Good Samaritan administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation, ultimately saving the woman’s life. This is an image that has never left her mind. She had a terrible sadness for this woman because she never wanted to have any idea of what Brock looked like when he died. Needless to say, this greatly impacted her life, and she came to realize that she must be a part of the solution to help save lives of those who are addicted to drugs.
This is the mission that brought her to Conway the day I heard her speak, and to be sure, she has made a difference. She is a two-time Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist and has also earned two Regional Emmy awards. In February 2020, she was honored with the National Newsmaker Award, which recognizes a journalist who goes above and beyond to educate the public on substance abuse. When she decided it was time to share her story, she produced the Emmy-winning special “Saving a Generation: The New Face of Drug Addiction.” Today, she spends a good deal of her time presenting her program at churches, schools and civic clubs.
Laura feels so strongly about what she is doing that she has dedicated a good portion of her time warning people about the terrible consequences of drug addiction. There are countless people who have called or written to share their story and many to seek help. When I heard her speak and later read her story, my first concern is what happens to the addicts after their addiction is reversed through the use of Narcan (a medicine used to block the effects of opioids)? Do they go back to using drugs or do they find a true and long-term solution that enables them to remain drug-free for the rest of their lives?
As I thought about this, I was reminded of a great long-term residential drug program here in our community called Renewal Ranch. The founder is a good friend of mine, Dr. Larry Pillow, who for many years was pastor of Second Baptist Church. Dr. Pillow also performed our wedding ceremony. At this point the Renewal Ranch program has helped hundreds of men, young and old, kick the drug habit with a 70 percent success rate. The program lasts for six months to a year and is a steady diet of Bible teaching that in most cases leads to having a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. When you know Jesus, you have someone to fight your battle for you and He is a Winner every time.
Thanks, Laura. God bless you.
Jim Davidson is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and Founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in the Log Cabin Democrat in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states.