Our Story

The development of Golden Heart Ranch is a story in itself. Here’s the story of how we got to where we are today and a few resources we think you’ll find helpful and interesting.


A Letter From Our founder

Bill, Rose, Justin and Sam

Bill, Rose, Justin and Sam

Dear Friends of Golden Heart Ranch, 


On a winter’s night some years ago our small family went to sleep one evening, young parents, with two beautiful boys and a crazy Labrador puppy. The next night we went to bed we were still, a young couple, with two beautiful boys and a crazy Labrador puppy, but our lives had changed dramatically and permanently. During that incredibly long day, our youngest son had two Grand Mal seizures and was in the next few days, diagnosed with Epilepsy.  Soon after, our beautiful boy Justin was deemed Autistic.

In the years that followed, we learned to have a different life from the one we envisioned as young parents. It took some time for us to come to terms with the fact that Justin could not be “cured,” but during those years we were always thankful for the amazing gift of raising our child. 


A few years ago, I knew the time had come for me to secure Justin’s future. It is one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do in my life. 


For years I let myself believe that Justin’s future would always be at home with us, his mom and dad. It was inconceivable that he should live anywhere else.  Like so many children with special needs, Justin depends entirely upon his family for his care, love and safety. And like so many special children Justin has never spent a night away from his home except on family vacations. Therefore the thought of abandoning my wonderful, trusting son to a typical group home with nothing to fill his days, living among unfamiliar faces, remains completely unthinkable and impossible. But of course the question loomed, what would happen when I was no longer there to provide for him.


Then, in 2006, I had the opportunity to visit an incredible farm in the Netherlands. For the first time the knot of fear regarding Justin’s future loosened. 

Justin at recently acquired land for GHR

Justin at recently acquired land for GHR

I was taken on a tour by some of the special residents of the Ranch and I found them to be happy and proud. They shared greens from their organic gardens and insisted that I take an armload of flowers as I left. Parents, volunteers and staff dotted the property providing guidance when needed. It was a community of harmony and peace. I left the farm that day knowing it was the answer to my fears and Justin’s future.


Together with a dedicated group of volunteers, parents and a very supportive community, we have created a solid non-profit whose vision not only encompasses building our exceptional ranch, but to help others create a sustainable Ranch model as well. GHR is a community that will provide on and off site jobs, organic gardens, ranch style homes where our “Ranch Hands” can live permanently, equestrian therapy, recreation, friendships and opportunities for our young adults with special needs to reach their fullest potential in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe.


Golden Heart is the name my mother calls my son. It’s true that the young adults that will call our ranch home, all have golden and innocent hearts. It is our mission in life to give these special kids a home that keeps their hearts golden and their belief in the goodness of people and life intact. 



Rose van Wier Hein


A Video Introduction to Our Mission

This is video of our founder, Rose van Wier Hein, explaining the Ranch during the symposium "Autism in the South Bay" in Torrance, CA.