Empowering Special Needs Adults To Live An Abundant Life In Celina

Article by Niki Carbajal

Photography by Courtesy of Cornerstone Ranch

Originally published in Celina Lifestyle

Cornerstone Ranch is a Christ-centered home and day program for adults with cognitive and/or developmental disabilities coming to the Celina area in the next few years. Located just outside of Celina, Cornerstone Ranch will consist of 60 acres arranged in a walkable village including 6 full-time residence houses, semi-independent living apartments, activity center, greenhouses, therapeutic riding center, sports fields, health & rec center, chapel, and more. At full buildout, Cornerstone Ranch will host 60 full-time residents, “Ranchers”, and 70+ staff members providing 24-hour supervision. 

Cornerstone Ranch began in 1999 through the dreams of David and Cynthia Heaton. They had a vision for a community that would serve and provide enrichment for special needs adults after high school. After college graduation, the Heatons invited three young men with special needs into their home. As their family grew, they realized the needs exceeded their living space and purchased 42 acres and a large home in Mckinney. After renovations in 2006, the first residents moved in and the Heatons began 24-hour care and on-site programming. A short 6 years later, the Ranch opened a day program to serve an additional 45 families weekly.  

Today, Cornerstone Ranch seeks to create a safe place where independence thrives, character grows, and confidence is nurtured. Their mission is to empower special needs adults to live in Community, experience God’s creation and personal growth through therapeutic animal care and organic gardening in Agriculture, in a Residential family-style setting that fosters safe and life-long relationships, while providing Enrichment for personal development and purpose (C.A.R.E). Ranchers are given the opportunity to experience abundant life through community involvement. Ranchers participate in activities like art class, ceramics, candle and card making, education classes, life skills training, daily exercise, community outreach, and more. Cornerstone Ranch centers its programming on six pillars:  

  1. Serving-Ranchers are encouraged to discover and grow in their giftedness through volunteering at local non-profits and participating in local church membership. 

  2. Developing Life Skills-Ranchers are challenged to reach their highest levels of independence in areas like grocery shopping, personal care, and meal prep. 

  3. Healthy Living-Cornerstone Ranch encourages healthy diets and daily exercise and sports. 

  4. Learning-Ranchers attend classes to further develop their math, reading, and health management skills. They attend daily devotionals and Bible studies focusing on living out Christian values. 

  5. Working-Vocational skills are developed through candle-making and jewelry projects. 

  6. Having Fun! 

“Moving to the Celina area is an intentional plan,” says Cornerstone Ranch’s Executive Director, David Heaton. “We are excited to be a part of something that has a strong sense of community and has a history of coming around and supporting people.” Cornerstone Ranch hopes to become a source of connection for Celina through participating in school and community events. “It’s important to integrate and serve in the community. Yes, we have a need for volunteers, but Cornerstone Ranch is coming to town with a mission to serve Celina, too. We have a 17-year proven test case from our time in the Mckinney location, and we hope our Ranchers will be invited to participate in Celina ISD sports, music programs, theater events, Friday Night Market, and all the other things that make Celina a special place to live.” Mr. Heaton says that Ranchers are encouraged to volunteer and are active in Meals on Wheels, preparing amenity packets for Streetside Showers, and serving in local churches. 

Cornerstone Ranch plans to provide not only full-time resident care and enrichment but also build a bridge between the special needs community and Celina as a whole. For more information: cornerstone-ranch.com

Celina can involve Ranchers in the community by providing job opportunities, volunteering alongside them in local non-profits or in Cornerstone Ranch programs on campus, and inviting them into every area that makes Celina a unique place to live.  

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