City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Rediscover Cornerstone Ranch

Abundant Life Through Three Ps For Ranchers With Intellectual And Developmental Disabilities

Article by Julie Brown Patton

Photography by Provided by Cornerstone Ranch

Originally published in Frisco City Lifestyle

People. Place. Purpose. This exact path and combination for empowering adults with special needs to live abundant lives is thriving at Cornerstone Ranch, a sanctuary that provides compassion, service and education. 

Cornerstone Ranch founders David and Cynthia Heaton say they first began to think about creating a place such as the ranch during 1999 when they realized special needs youths lacked a stepping stone into independent living after high school. In 2004, the Heatons purchased 42 peaceful acres of land outside McKinney, and they built a 10,000-square foot ranch home for this nonprofit purpose. In 2006, the first Cornerstone residents moved in. During 2011, the group added a non-residential day program that now serves 50-plus adults with special needs.

Presently, 'Ranchers' at 3933 CR 317 improve various levels of personal growth and find joy as they find their life's purpose through new opportunities, activities and support.

"Cornerstone Ranch has a unique, faith-based approach to family style living that fosters safe and nurturing relationships, and a lifelong home for our Ranchers," says Cynthia Heaton, executive director.

Cynthia explains that the group's six programming pillars are: serving (each resident and day program participant volunteers weekly at local nonprofits); developing life skills (to reach highest level of independence via grocery shopping, home care, meal preparation and personal grooming); healthy living (through balanced diets, daily exercise and sports); learning (classes to further develop math, reading, health management skills, plus daily devotionals and Bible studies); working (developing vocational skills and working in various enterprises, including making candles and homemade jam); and having fun through organized and impromptu activities.

Robin Vestal, Cornerstone Ranch development director, notes that with the program, community engagement isn't just an activity; "it's a cornerstone of our mission."

She says Ranchers not only find a nurturing community there, they also actively contribute to the larger neighborhood. "This year, the Ranchers' dedication was recognized when they were honored as the 2024 Volunteer Group of the Year by Volunteer McKinney. Through initiatives like serving at Samaritan Inn and delivering Meals on Wheels, our Ranchers demonstrate the powerful impact we can all make by serving others. Their unwavering commitment not only enriches their lives but also strengthens the entire community, showcasing the profound impact of service and connection."

To get involved at the ranch, tours can be requested. The staff is always looking for great volunteers to help serve alongside residents or on the property, says Charlotte DeRuyter, volunteer coordinator.

Additionally, passionate individuals are sought to join the Ranch's professional team. "If you have a heart for service and a desire to contribute to a thriving community, here, every staff member plays a pivotal role in nurturing the potential of each Rancher, making every day a chance to change lives for the better," Cynthia explains.

Organizations, such as the City of Frisco, City of McKinney, Citizen's Church, Stonebriar Church, The Parks Church, Breckenridge Village, Brookwood Community, Hugs Cafe & Greenhouse, ManeGait, McKinney Special Olympics, My Possibilities and The Nathaniel Foundation, serve or have served as supportive partners.

Business and corporate partners include entities such as Craig International, Eversource Wealth Advisors, HEB, Insperity, Simpson Strong-Tie, Wells Group and Titan Consulting.

Kirt Ruby, chair of the Cornerstone Ranch board of directors and senior product manager of Interstate Battery, says: "Cornerstone Ranch offers more than just support; it provides a loving environment where individuals are cherished, connections deepen and personal growth flourishes. This is why supporting our cause is not just an investment in a place, but in a vibrant future where every person discovers their true potential."

To assist with the ranch's objectives, Alexis Moore, the group's development coordinator, says those interested can provide one-time or recurring gifts. "There also are other ways to make an impact and change the lives of our Ranchers through donor advised gifts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, corporate matching, legacy giving and IRA qualified giving."

This year's Cornerstone Ranch Barn Bash, an event to raise awareness of the special needs community, is slated for Nov. 2. The event is scheduled to have gourmet food trucks, live music, a petting zoo, hayrides and bounce houses. Tickets will be available online or at the event.


"God has crafted each of our Cornerstone Ranchers uniquely and wonderfully."

Providing lifelong, enriching care with unique purposes.

  • Photo by Fredshots Photography
  • Photo by Fredshots Photography