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Al Key - DRC

Community strives to give back

Profile image for By Elizabeth Boyle / For the Denton Record-Chronicle
By Elizabeth Boyle / For the Denton Record-Chronicle

Traveling six miles to southwest Denton, a car turns west to head down Robson Ranch Boulevard. After passing by stretches of white fence, the car stops at the gate of Robson Ranch, a community vastly different from others in the area.

At first glance, Robson Ranch might not appear any different. It is what happens within the gated community that makes it original.

Robson Ranch is an active adult community whose upscale, older residents could easily settle back and relax at this point in their lives. But just the opposite is occurring. Many residents are actively engaged in the Denton community, helping public schools and supporting the troops while enjoying lives rich with new friends and new interests.

On most days, resident Frank Hunter can be found in the noisy, ‘L’-shaped wood shop, which consists of several work stations, saws and other equipment. About 100 members of Robson Ranch’s woodworking club actively take part in ongoing projects.

“Need a project? Have some wood? Then let’s build a box,” Hunter said.

For the past two years, the woodworking club has made boxes for Beads of Courage at Cooke Children’s Hospital. Kids seeking prolonged medical treatment are given beads, with each color having some significance. The boxes hold the beads and frequently turn into memorials.

The wood shop is in the arts building, where display cases of residents’ artwork line the hallway. A building away sits the sports center with an indoor and outdoor pool, weight and cardio room, salon and more.

A few parking lots over from the arts and sports center is Robson Ranch Grill. The grill offers everything from burgers and wraps at lunch to salmon and steak at dinner. Overlooking the grill is the spacious 18-hole Wildhorse Golf Club. Both the grill and the golf club are open to the public.

Arizona-based Robson Resort Communities began developing the Denton location around 10 years ago, its first in Texas.  Currently 1,400 houses line the streets, although plans to complete the project in 20 years call for there to be 4,500 houses in the community. 

The minimum age to buy a house at Robson Ranch is 40 years old.  However, to be considered an active adult community, the average age for residents must be 55 or older.

With only 30 percent of residents still working, many focus on existing hobbies or gain new ones. It is why both the fitness and arts center are so busy.

Clubs based on residents’ interests often meet in the centers. Some clubs are focused on gardening, gaming and painting. If there isn’t a club to meet one’s interests, then a simple post on the message board will find people with similar ones.

Many groups involve people who enjoy spending their time giving back to others who are less fortunate.

“We are blessed in life to be able to give back to the community,” resident Donna Chabot said. “We are able to afford to spread the wealth. A lot of this is the time we are able to devote to others.”

In July 2005, two months before Chabot moved to Robson Ranch, her son lost his life while serving in the U.S. Army. As a single mother with only one son, she was devastated.

“Nancy Tong, leader of the eight people in Support Our Troops, saved my life,” Chabot recalled. “She found out from my Robson Ranch salesperson about my son, and she was literally at my door the day I closed on my home. The Support Our Troops gave me a place to channel my tragedy. I am forever grateful.”

Chabot, along with about 170 other residents, are involved in Support Our Troops. Members participate in activities such as sending letters and packages to troops overseas and greeting troops at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport when they return from duty abroad.

Chabot also is a part of the Women’s Club, which makes contributions for those closer to home. They contribute to places such as the Denton Community Food Center, and they make blankets and pillows for Denton County Friends of the Family, which offers help to those suffering from domestic violence.

Even though residents are older and have no young children, they believe in supporting Denton schools.

Some residents take part in the Communities in Schools program, delivering bags of food to students at Borman Elementary. The students are often in need of nutritious food and some do not have access to appliances like microwaves and refrigerators.

Resident Ann Madigan is actively engaged with both the Communities in Schools program and the After Schoolers, which takes various “goodies” to teachers at Borman Elementary.

“The goodies are currently sub sandwiches, pizza and chocolate treats,” Madigan said. “We put on a homemade soup and salad lunch in the spring. It is usually eight Crock-Pots of soup and many salads and desserts.”

After Schoolers also gives grants, scholarships and monetary gifts intended for the classrooms to Borman teachers. Madigan stressed she soon hopes to get involved with the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University.

Residents also join the Kiwanis Club and the knitting club, both of which provide opportunities to make a difference in Denton. Getting involved has the residual benefit of getting to know other club members, unlike in some communities where only next-door neighbors are friends.

More people are moving into Robson Ranch than are moving out. Whether the residents are single, married, want to be involved within the neighborhood or not, residents emphasize they are healthy, active adults who love where they live.

“When you get to our age, people think it’s time to go to a rest home. We have people in their 80s here,” said Steve Shepard, a Robson’s Ranch Homeowners Association board member. “In fact, an 80-year-old that lives near me has decided she is going to go to Argentina.”