The Sherman Municipal Ballroom glistened like a shimmery jewel Saturday night as locals came together to support an organization that helps people mine diamonds from life’s bags of coal. The Child and Family Guidance Center provides individual, family and group therapy, psychological assessments and other services to people trying to find their way through life’s roughest patches.


The Starfish Benefit, now in its sixth year, helps the center afford to offer those services and others regardless of a recipient’s ability to pay.


Michelle Castle, president of the center’s board of directors, said the organization starts working on its major fundraiser in early February.


The sold out event met its sponsorship goal of $100,000 and Castle said the board would be pleased if the event made an additional $50,000.


She said the great thing about the Center’s board is that “everyone has what they are good at and they just go out and make it happen.”


The center’s staff also get excited about the event and work hard to make sure it is a success each year, she said.


Part of that hard work comes from people who neither work for the center or serve on its board. “We have great volunteers,” Castle said, including Tedra Franklin, who does the decorations for the event, and Denise Rowlins, who “finds one-of-a-kind items for the (silent) auction.” Castle said the group knows that people have a lot of choices when it comes to organizations to support and silent auction items on which to bid, so they try to make sure to offer choices that are not just “things,” but rather experiences that can be shared and remembered for a lifetime.


That concentration on long-term happiness isn’t just a fundraising concept. It is a core concept at the center as its staff seeks to help its clients find long-term health and happiness with options like the “Family Empowerment” program, parent education programs, a “Kids Hurt Too” divorce education seminar, mental health professional training and community partnerships and collaborations.


The center began in 1966 as a mental health charity receiving funding from United Way of Grayson County, fundraising efforts such as the Starfish Benefit, Medicaid and CHIP insurance, donations from businesses, foundations and individuals, some private insurance plans and client fees.


No client is refused treatment due to financial limitations. The staff provides outpatient mental health care and prevention, as well as intervention education services to more than 2,500 children, teenagers and families each year. The center also provides training opportunities for students in the field of mental health through internships and for licensed professionals through mental health trainings and workshops.


One of the biggest goals of each year’s benefit is to increase awareness of the center and the services it provides for the community. Castle said part of the goal of the benefit is to let the community know how much the center needs its help to continue providing those services.