Archie Badura was a 19-year-old Oconomowoc man with a magnetic smile. He loved people. His brother, Augie, was practically his best friend.
Archie died in 2014 of an opioid overdose. Now, his mother, Lauri, has become an advocate against addiction.
For years, Lauri had a folder on her computer titled "Saving Archie." After Archie’s death, she started the nonprofit organization "Saving Others For Archie," or SOFA, which aims to raise awareness about addiction.
"We all grieve in different ways," she said. "But doing something to help others is the way I’m surviving my grief."
Her approach is empathetic. As a mother who has lived through it, she helps people whose loved ones are struggling with addiction, by providing resources or just being a listening ear.
SOFA’s Facebook page even lists her phone number. She gets a few calls a week.
"I let them know that I am not a professional, but that … I’m there for them when no one was there for me," she said.
SOFA is faith-based, and Lauri is adamant that prayer will play a part in the solution to the opioid epidemic.
One photo on SOFA’s Facebook page depicts Archie as a young boy with a shock of blonde hair, hands folded and eyes closed in prayer. It’s his first communion.
"We were really a faith-built family, all the way to the end," Lauri said. "So I believe that he’s up there now helping me do what I’m doing down here. Because certainly I am not doing this on my own."
At the White House Opioid Summit earlier this month, White House National Drug Control Policy Acting Director Jim Carroll read from a prayer card. He mentioned Archie’s name.
"One I keep on my desk is from a young man named Archie," he said. "And it reads, 'God of love, graciously ease our burdens from this epidemic.'"
Last week, Congress passed a $1.3 trillion spending bill that includes more than $4 billion in funding to tackle the opioid epidemic.
Lauri said she’s optimistic the funding will be put to good use. Adding that she hopes more money is funneled into both prevention and recovery services.
"I’m thrilled that there’s money coming. It’s so needed," she said. "This past weekend alone, I worked with an individual trying to find treatment, and we still don't have a bed for this individual in northern Wisconsin. We are so lacking beds right now for recovery."