Polk County pastors help feed struggling addicts

Sen. Rick Scott announced the “Stop Fentanyl Package” act at a press conference in Pinellas County Tuesday, saying the legislation will help address Florida’s opioid crisis.


What You Need To Know

  • Florida’s Sen. Rick Scott announced the “Stop Fentanyl Package” act in Pinellas County Tuesday
  • Law enforcement officials with him at the time claim that the state’s opioid crisis is cause, at least in part, by current border policies
  • In Polk County, pastor Kay Kasser and her Combee Connections ministry are working to make sure people struggling with addiction have food to eat

Law enforcement in attendance spoke in support of Scott, arguing that the opioid crisis is in part due to border policies.

“As a result of the border being open, fentanyl is coming from Southeast Asia, coming into Mexico, coming across the California and Texas border, then going to Atlanta, and then coming here to Florida,” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

Gualtieri said the price of fentanyl dropped from $95 a gram to $80 a gram, making it easier to acquire.

Polk County pastor Kay Kasser says it’s the addiction that is fueling the crisis.

“The truth is a lot of people are addicted,” she said.

Kasser and her ministry at Combee Connections said everyone is welcome at her church, even those struggling with addiction. The church makes outreach efforts to make sure everyone, including the homeless, addicts and felons, have a meal to eat.

“People go, ‘Well, you’re enabling them,'” said Kasser. “Well, nowhere does it say if I keep somebody alive by feeding them and give them basic nutrition, that I’m enabling their drug use.”

A true testament to the work is what she says keeps her and her congregation motivated.

“The reality is, we have a lot of people who are addicted — that’s a reality,” Kasser said. “They get so focused on getting high and meeting that need that they forget about food.”

So, while Combee Connections Ministry in Lakeland welcomes everyone into their church, Kasser said she understands that sometimes, some people need a little more help than others.

“It’s become so addictive that — they seem to choose the fentanyl and heroin, or fentanyl and meth, over food so,” she said. We feed them and teach them about the lord.

“For me my drug addiction was cocaine and alcohol,” she continued, addressing her own struggles with addiction. “I wouldn’t go to breakfast at a place if they didn’t serve alcohol.”

Kasser said she struggled with drug and alcohol abuse more than 30 years ago. She said a scary situation that could have turned out a lot worse is what helped her get clean.

“I was in a car accident with my daughter, who was only 9 at the time,” she said. “It scared me so bad that after that day, I stopped using.”

She says her journey led her to start the Combee Connections Ministry.

“It was God,” Kasser said. “We never planned on having a ministry — I’m a retired teacher, I moved down here to be grandma but God had other plans.”

She said her ministry strongly supports the Stop Fentanyl Act that Scott announced on Tuesday.

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