Star-Bulletin Features

Tuesday, July 20, 1999

Kindred Hearts Activities and Adventures
Dee Dee De Soto leads a group from Kindred Hearts on
a horseback riding excursion at Kualoa Ranch.

Heart to heart

Outdoor recreation offers singles
a chance to meet kindred spirits

By Stephanie Kendrick


CAROL Devenot is not particularly looking for romance.

The "fiftysomething" retired Kalaheo High School teacher leads an active life, with interests ranging from software design to bodyboarding.

Out There Born and raised in Hawaii, Devenot has a lot of friends. But when she read about Kindred Hearts Activities and Adventures, a singles club/dating service, she knew it would fill a need in her life.

Kindred Hearts offers relationship workshops, individual introductions and group activities designed to get singles together in a recreational setting.

It was this last bit that appealed to Devenot.

"It's been a whole new network of meeting new people," said Devenot, who recently went on a roller-blading excursion organized by Kindred Hearts and mastered the new skill in an afternoon. "The teacher was fantastic," she said. "Everybody was having a good time." She intends to take follow-up lessons.

Since retiring two years ago, Devenot has learned her craving for exercise and adventure are unusual. "People my age just don't like doing stuff," she said.

She credits her former students with giving her a zest for life. "That's one of the reasons I hated leaving teaching. They kept me young," she said.

And romance? "I'm at the point where if something happens that's fine, if it doesn't that's fine too," she said. "That wasn't my primary goal."

Although Kindred Hearts owner Dee Dee De Soto sees herself as a modern-day matchmaker, she does not see the dating service part of her business as its most important function.

She recently added "Activities and Adventures" to the name Kindred Hearts to emphasize the distinction between her company and traditional dating services.

Her goal is to help people build better relationships and to eliminate violence in relationships by teaching people how to deal with their frustration.

"The majority of the population needs to work on relationship skills," she said.

To that end, Kindred Hearts offers relationship workshops open to couples and singles. Recent topics have included "Keeping the Flame Alive" and "Creating Your Hearts Desire." They are free to members and $15-$30 for nonmembers, and De Soto prints two-for-one coupons in the company newsletter.

Kindred Hearts

Upcoming recreation activities include:

Bullet July 31: Sail, snorkel and lunch on a 100-foot yacht, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., $45.

Bullet Aug. 1: Mountain bike and swim at Wawamalu, 1-4 p.m., cost under negotiation.

Bullet Aug. 8: Waimanalo Beach picnic, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Free.

Bullet Aug. 14: Rock climbing with Climbers Paradise, 4-6:30 p.m., $20.

Bullet Aug. 22: Catamaran sail off Waikiki, 5:30 p.m., $20

Bullet Aug. 29: Horseback riding at Kualoa Ranch, 2:15 p.m., $20 members, $25 nonmembers

Bullet Call 524-2712 to register for these events or for information on dance classes, evening entertainment opportunities and workshops.

A $199 annual membership fee includes free access to workshops and discounts on activities. Individual introductions cost $50. A couple of weeks or several months can pass between introductions.

De Soto also sees group outings as a step toward her goal.

"It takes a healthy mind, body and spirit to have a healthy relationship," she said.

And the relaxed atmosphere of Kindred Hearts' outings is conducive to spontaneous matches.

"It's a great opportunity to meet people who share your interests," said John Alford.

Alford is president of Ohana Adventure Tours, which organizes guided hikes and bicycle tours.

He led a hike to Makapuu lighthouse for Kindred Hearts and was impressed by the casual atmosphere. "It's not like a set up thing," said Alford.

A single father brought three of his children. "When he showed up with kids it really added a nice, light feel to the day," said Alford.

Steve Hillman, head of enterprise relationships for Hawaii Sailing Adventures, also has hosted groups from Kindred Hearts. Trips on the 56-foot yacht Lear Jet are typically limited to six and are catered by Beau Soleil.

Hillman said he has enjoyed the group outings and participants seem to have a good time as well. A Cinco de Mayo theme party, complete with cumin-rubbed pork tenderloin, margaritas and Corona beer, was a particular hit, he said.

Although most of De Soto's members declined to be interviewed for this story, she argues the days when there was a stigma attached to using a dating service are over.

"It's not like you're a loser. It's a time saver," she said.

But Dolly La Joie remembers what it feels like to be a new member in a singles club.

"It was hard to go the first time. You feel like you're actively chasing people, but you're not. I finally got over that," she said.

La Joie has been involved with the Unity Singles social group off and on since 1987. Unity church gives the club space and offers relationship seminars to members as well as the community at large. Church membership is not required to join Unity Singles.

"There's something for everyone," said La Joie. Activities include tennis, hiking, dinner cruises, house parties, dancing at clubs, horseback riding and volleyball.

And a lot of food. "Having someone to break bread with is the main thing," said La Joie.

Many Unity Singles' members are not looking to change their marital status. "We're pretty well situated. We like being single," she said. However, younger members tend not to stick around very long.

"Gosh, the weddings, I'm telling you," she said. Last year was slow at about four, she said, compared to seven or eight the year before.

The club gives members a chance to have a social life without the pressure of being alone with someone they don't know, said La Joie.

Chaz Williams, manager of Honolulu NiteLife Excursions, sees Kindred Hearts as providing a similar benefit. "It allows people to come together without that one-on-one date pressure," he said.

Williams facilitates evening dining and entertainment outings for Kindred Hearts. Spending the night on the town with a group allows people to get to know others on the tour, as well as other patrons at stops along the way.

"(De Soto's) got a great operation going," he said. "It's unique because of her activities."

De Soto also offers computerized matching services. She started with membership split evenly between the sexes, but male membership has grown faster. Most members are between 38 and 48, with the youngest being 21 and the oldest 62, she said.

Potential members go through an interview and application process designed to weed out those with substance abuse problems, dangerous criminal histories or people just looking for sex.

"I want quality people," said De Soto. "If I don't feel I'd introduce that person to a friend, I don't want them as a member."

Do It Electric
Click for online
calendars and events.

E-mail to Features Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin