Downtown Deb: Volunteer loves watching downtown Winchester grow, being part of progress

Deb Parr practically grew up in downtown Winchester.

When she was a child, she would come shopping downtown with her grandparents. As a teen, she came downtown to watch movies at Leeds Theater.

Parr is now starting her second term as board member for the Main Street Winchester program, which is working to revitalize and promote downtown.

Though she lives north of Georgetown, Parr’s passion is seeing downtown Winchester grow.

“I’m very committed,” she said. “It’s exciting to watch new things happen.”

Parr’s family has a long heritage in Winchester, but friends encouraged her to come back to town with her restaurant. She opened Deb’s Depot in 2013 at the corner of Main and Broadway streets.

“When I started my diner and catering business in 2012, I was working there (near my home),” Parr said. “Family and friends said ‘We want you here.’ I said, ‘Well, find me a place.’”

She started inside Thoroughbred Gymnastics, but soon moved to the restaurant at the corner of Main and Broadway streets in the heart of downtown.

Though the Depot eventually closed, Parr is still in downtown with her Heart to Home Services, which offers a variety of classes and services.

It didn’t take long after returning to town for Parr to start volunteering and recruiting others to the downtown cause.

“I got involved immediately,” she said. “I have a passion because it is my heritage. Mayor Ed (Burtner) approached me and asked me to serve on the board in 2015 and I accepted.”

In addition to serving as chair of the Main Street Winchester board, she also serves on the promotions and organization committees. The two incorporate several tasks including raising funds for the program, coordinating with downtown businesses and finding more volunteers to help with projects.

“That’s our direction with the Main Street program,” she said. “The more volunteers we have, the more things we can implement for growth.”

Parr said she has already seen tremendous growth and progress in downtown in the last two years, from city officials responding to concerns as well as new businesses opening.

“I want people to say ‘If we go downtown, there’s always something to do,’” she said. “That would be a milestone. I would love to see that day.

“We are getting there one day at a time.”

Parr is hosting an informational meeting for anyone interested in the Main Street Program and volunteering today at 5:30 p.m. at Heart to Home Services, 42 N. Main St. The meeting will last about an hour, she said.