February is a month of romance, but not everyone is lucky enough to be paired up with that special someone. If you’re looking for love—or perhaps just a fun adventure—these four local matchmakers specialize in personalized, one-on-one attention at a time when many single people rely on giant online dating companies to find someone.
For matchmaker Sheryl Spangler, it’s easy to relate to her clients because she could have easily been sitting on the other side of the desk.
Spangler was living in Seattle when she found herself single for the first time in 30 years. The divorcee moved to Charlotte and started a relationship coaching business, Heart and Soul Matchmaking.
“Many of my clients had been married for a long time and then divorced and they were afraid to start dating again,” she says. “I spent a lot of time working with them to get them ready.”
That grew into a passion for matchmaking, she says. Spangler’s private one-year matchmaking service costs $10,000. She also offers online dating management for six months for $5,000.
“This is what I was meant to do,” she says. “A lot of people are single and lonely because they don’t know how to do the things they need to do in order to get out and meet potential life partners. I can be a catalyst to make that happen. I can’t think of anything more wonderful than helping people find wonderful relationships. ”
Laurie F. Berzack
Laurie Berzack has been a matchmaker for more than 7 years.
It all started when she began setting up her friends who were divorced and, no longer in their 20s, weren’t going out as much and were having a hard time meeting the right kind of people.
After experiencing some initial success, Berzack started Chai Expectations in 2006, a matchmaking service catering exclusively to the Jewish community. As her business grew, she launched Carolinas Matchmaker in 2012 to appeal to a broader market.
“My matches are very detail oriented,” she says. “I really examine my client’s core belief systems and search through my database to find them someone.”
She says that 4 in 5 of her clients find success with her services, whether that’s a long-term relationship or a marriage proposal.
Mike, a 44-year-old Mountain Island Lake resident, is one such success story.
Never married, Mike’s one-year contract with Carolinas Matchmaker was nearing the end and he still hadn’t found anyone.
“My level of enthusiasm was starting to wane,” he says. “I started feeling like there wasn’t an opportunity for me. But Laurie never gave up.”
On what was to be his final date, Berzack arranged “a match made in heaven,” says Mike.
Mike says that right from the first date, he could tell there was something special between him and his new sweetheart.
“We just seem to be kindred spirits,” he says. “We’ve had nothing but good conversation and good times. It’s just been a natural fit.”
Amy Spurlock has been at least partly responsible for the marriage of at least three couples, but she still had a hard time calling herself a matchmaker.
The Lake Norman resident organizes regular outings to places like the movies and wineries for singles 40 and over. And three times a year, Spurlock hosts large parties with dancing and entertainment with upwards of 300 people, including one Feb. 15 at Waterford Hall in Cornelius.
“In the beginning, it was just something to do so I wouldn’t sit home alone on the weekends,” says Spurlock, 55.
Today, there are more than 1,500 people in Spurlock’s “Lake Norman Over 40 Singles” group, which she started in 2009.
“Every time we have an event, it just keeps growing,” she says. “But I don’t consider it a dating group. I consider it a place for people to make friends.”
Debbie Gennosa, 53, says Spurlock’s events appealed to her because meeting men in a group setting was a lot less intimidating and overwhelming than going on one-on-one dates.
“You can always go off in a corner and start talking if you hit it off, but all of that pressure isn’t there in a group,” she says.
Genossa says it was four years ago when she and a girlfriend first attended one of Spurlock’s parties. As the two friends were checking out the crowd, she spotted Mike.
“I was trying to send signals as best I could, but I didn’t want to be too forward and I left and didn’t know if I would ever see him again,” says Gennosa.
But the very next weekend she ran into him at the Wine Loft in Mooresville.
“That’s when we really started talking and we haven’t stopped talking since,” says Gennosa.
The two were married in September.
For more information, email Spurlock at email@example.com
Dana Phillips, 70, is dedicated to making her group, the New Beginnings Singles Club, a safe and inviting place where people can feel comfortable and have fun together, and perhaps even find a romantic match.
Phillips, of Mooresville, has been president of the group for 10 years. She first joined after getting a divorce in the 1990s, hoping to meet some new people her own age.
“It was great,” she says. “I had a whole new group of friends and I have been going ever since.”
A core membership of 25 people explores the area with plays, craft shows, concerts, movies, cookouts and more.
One thing that is constant is their dinner meeting on third Thursdays of every month at the Captain's Galley Restaurant in Mooresville.
“It’s like having an extended family,” says Phillips. “And that’s really important for people who live in the area and don’t really have anyone.”
And sometimes, friendships forged during these get-togethers turn into something more.
Phillips recalls one couple who regularly attended the same events together. Eventually the two started dating, but they kept it secret from the rest of the group.
“Finally they told us,” says Phillips. “And then they ended up getting married. It was definitely a happy ending.”
For more information on New Beginnings Singles Club, call 704-528-3864
Out matchmakers offered the following tips to finding that special someone.
—Get out and meet people. Get yourself involved
—Learn how to promote yourself and talk about yourself and let people know you’re single and you’re looking for someone wonderful
—Think out of the box. You can set your parameters and expectations high, just don’t set them narrow.
—Be authentic. Be yourself.
—The only expectation you should have on a date is to have fun. And if you’re not having fun, then cut the date short and go home.
—Think in terms of abundance and not scarcity of dating partners.
—Be the person that you want to attract.