Almost 20 years ago, our family moved to Missouri. It was fall and the colors were beautiful. We had moved from Arizona where year round it was dry and yellow.

Missouri was quite a contrast for us.

I was thrilled to have green grass in our yard. We couldn’t grow any kind of grass in Arizona, no matter how hard we tried.

We had an automatic sprinkler system that watered the lawn every day. We’d cut the trees back so the sun could help with grass growth. But it didn’t work.

We could only grow cactus and rock, not grass.

After a few months in Missouri, we learned that growing grass was easy. We didn’t have to water or fertilize, grass just grew on its own.

Anyway, we were living in Missouri about a year when I noticed a funny-colored grass in the back yard. Up close, it didn’t look like grass.

I supposed it was some kind of weed, so I tried spraying weed killer. It didn’t work and the funny grass continued to grow.

Next, I tried the shovel and dug it out. Within a week it was back again. I thought the new grass or weed didn’t look too bad and “at least it’s green.”

Within a short time, the funny green grass was taking over the back yard. I tried adjusting the mower, fertilizing, and hand pulling. It didn’t work.

I bought all kinds of chemicals. They didn’t work. Some left brown spots in the lawn and some appeared to feed the funny green grass. I was stymied.

One day, while attempting to dig out the funny green grass, I motioned to my neighbor Paul and asked him what he thought was growing in my backyard.

He smiled and answered back “crabgrass.” He then suggested a specific chemical, one that could rid me of my crabgrass. He told me where to buy it and how to apply it. I was grateful.

It worked. I couldn’t believe it. I had to get to the root of the problem with the right stuff. Crabgrass is very resilient.

I read about crabgrass and this is what I learned.

Crabgrass is a major weed that can infest the lawns of our communities. It has a tremendous survival reproductive capability. It can smother the health and well being of a beautiful lawn within a short period of time.

A gardener can adjust his mowing, fertilize, hand pull, or topically treat with numerous chemicals his crabgrass and find very little success. One learns quickly that crabgrass cannot be destroyed until you get to the root of the problem.

Now, what is all of that about?

Think about this, we have similar weeds in our community, affecting all of us.

The weeds are spreading rapidly and are thick. These weeds include poverty, divorce, crime, abuse, alcoholism, drugs, and declining moral standards.

These weeds are, in the same way, smothering the health and well being of our homes, schools, and communities.

Schools are purchasing metal detectors, surveillance cameras, security systems, canine patrol, and police protection to lock students in, in hopes of locking problems out.

Billions of dollars are being spent by our cities on the same topical treatments in an attempt to destroy the “crabgrass” in our communities. But “crabgrass” cannot be eliminated until you get to the root, the family.

Healthy families can heal sickly communities.

This evening is our 18th year of honoring families. Since 1998, more than 500 families have been honored for their amazing commitment to putting their family first.

Tonight is the 2016 “Family of the Year” Reception Dinner, where 20 families will be honored. Join us as we pay tribute to all families.

In addition, look forward to many specials next week, April 24 –April 30, at https://www.facebook.com/JacksonCountyFamilyWeek

Enjoy!

Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County’s Family Week Foundation. Email her at director@jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org or visit www.jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.