John Green

John Green addresses the crowd at the first annual Remembrance and Recovery via Prevention event at Wasilla Lake.

WASILLA — One of the founding members of the Mat-Su Opioid Task Force, John Green recently received the First Lady Volunteer Award for his various volunteering efforts in the recovery community, persistently pushing forward to help others after losing his own daughter amid the opioid epidemic.

“It is very well deserved. He’s worked extremely, extremely hard through the death of his daughter in order to turn the tide,” Mat-Su Opioid Task Force chairman, Michael Carson said.

Green received a congratulatory call from Rose Dunleavy herself earlier this week. He said that it was a complete shock and that he was honored to receive the recognition.

“I feel very humbled. I think there’s a lot more people that are a lot more deserving than me,” Green said.

Green was chosen by an executive committee comprised of community members for demonstrating a substantial commitment to charitable activities and affecting lasting change for the good of Alaska.

Carson is the one who nominated Green for the award. He said that it couldn’t have gone to a more deserving person, admiring Green’s ceaseless efforts moving forward and making things happen in spite of his endless grief as a mourning parent.

“With John’s passion, the Mat-Su Opioid Task Force became a reality,” Carson said. “The Mat-Su Task Force has been in existence for over four years. John is very involved and committed to all our priorities, especially working upstream in prevention with our youth. John knows first hand, we have to stop making suffering souls with addiction issues to turn the tide on this opioid epidemic.”

Kellsie died in an Anchorage jail due to complications from heroin withdrawals at the age of 24. In addition to helping kick start the Task Force, Green established Kellsie’s Key as a way to support those touched by addiction in whatever capacity with information, comradery, and connection to local resources.

“I could not imagine what it must have been like to experience the loss of a child. can not imagine and actually do not know how John continues to be in the good fight. Every Task Force meeting, every town hall meeting, every time he provides public testimony and everyone that he talks to, he is re-living Kellsie’s death. Again, he is my hero. He must be able to carry on, because he has promised Kellsie, in his prayers, her death will not be in vain,” Carson said.

Green continues investing his time, energy, and resources into the recovery community across various capacities.

“Recovery is real and recovery does happen,” Green said.

With the help of several recovery organizations, he was able to establish a new two-day event at Wasilla Lake called Remembrance and Recovery via Prevention that took place Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. He also plans to keep holding a community candlelit vigil every January to read the names of those lost to addiction.

“I don’t even really look at it as volunteering. I just do what I think needs to be done… It’s a lifelong journey I think. ” Green said.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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