Community program

New Accreditation Standards End a Beloved Community Program

DANVILLE, Ky. — At the end of this year, after nearly 40 years, the Heart of Danville, one of the city’s premier nonprofits, will say goodbye.

What do you want to know

  • The Heart of Danville ends its activities after nearly 40 years of service
  • A few of the Heart’s leaders have reflected on its impact over the years
  • Executive Director Mary Conley helps community members remember her efforts

Mary Conley has been the Executive Director of the Heart of Danville for nearly two years.

As a must-have initiative in the community, the heart and its team have helped downtown Danville preserve its economic and historic beauty.

Executive Director Mary Conley says she is grateful to the dedicated committee members who have helped the service thrive over the years. (Spectrum News 1/Sabriel Metcalf)

“It’s not about setting up all the activities, it’s about seeing where there’s a need and nurturing those ideas and bringing them to fruition, and then letting them go forward and create their own life,” Conley said.

The Main Street America and Main Street Kentucky programs are both part of the accreditation process. With a shortage of funding, volunteers, and new credentialing requirements, the nonprofit has struggled to retain its title.

The Heart includes a dedicated team of local traders, community members and religious leaders. However, a shortage of volunteers due to COVID-19 has tested the foundation’s efforts.

Shana Followell, who helped the program focus on the city’s COVID prevention and safety measures, says it takes extra work from people who are already busy.

“A lot of us own businesses, and some of them hold high-ranking positions at Center College,” Followell said. “Some have multiple businesses, so volunteering and spinning all those plates at once is tough, but we’ve done our best to make it work.”

Over the years, the Heart of Danville has helped promote programs through services like its matching grants program. (Spectrum News 1/Sabriel Metcalf)

The various programs of the organization will dissolve into several small nonprofits within the community that have similar values.

While this is a bittersweet farewell for many boards and even community members, Conley remains grateful for their years of commitment.

“Downtown is one of my favorite places,” Conley said. “I grew up downtown, I work downtown, and the people who have been affiliated with the heart of Danville, I want to thank everyone on the committee.

In 2001, the heart of Danville was awarded the Great American Main Street Award by national accreditors.

The Heart of Danville is known for its grantmaking and historic preservation programs, as well as the many family events such as holiday parades and many more held over the years.