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Fox 4 Kansas City
February 14, 2012, by Tess Koppelman

Modern Matchmaker Adds Personal Touch

Overland Park, Kan. — Online dating no longer has the stigma it once did. Lots of people of all ages are doing it and many even fall in love and end up walking down the aisle. But much like anything online, it doesn’t seem very personal to some people. For those people, there’s Jill Ellington.

“I’m an old fashioned matchmaker,” says Ellington.

She’s been in the business now for 21 years, when she first started her business called “Friendship Exchange.” She says hundreds of happy marriages have come from that social club and from her one on one dating business called “Relationship Headhunters.”

Ellington says people sometimes try online dating before they come to her, but their biggest complaint is the time they spend sorting through profiles. “It can take a lot of time, almost like another job,” she says. “And that’s when people come to me and say help!”

When Ellington first started in 1991, video dating was the in thing, but much like internet dating it was still left up to the individuals who they wanted to date. Ellington says she’s learned many people just aren’t good at picking out a good partner for themselves.

Ellington says through her process, she asks a lot of questions and really gets to know her clients and what’s important to them.

“I become like a friend and they trust me,” she says. ” I wouldn’t send them to someone unless I thought it was a good match for them.”

New client Cindy Hough says she has never tried internet dating.

“This would be more personal,” Hough says. “I don’t trust being online at all because as you know anybody could pretend to be anybody or anything.”

Ellington says the process is all about working with the client to find a good match.

“I don’t just say ‘hey you’re meeting this person,’ Ellington says. “They get to review the profile and see a picture and then they make the decision.”

Ellington says. But she says the most important thing to keep in mind, is to look for friendship first. She says too many people rush into a relationship without really getting to know the other person.

Ellington arranges one on one dates or for people who prefer small dinner parties with groups of singles, you can join her Friendship Exchange. The initial fee to join is on sale for half price until the end of February ($150) and then it costs 80 dollars for every match/date she helps arrange.

Click here to view the full article.



Hers Kansas Magazine- September 19, 2004
A new attitude

“It's time for a change - expand that social group or start dating”
By Kristen Buford

For you computer-illiterate folks, agencies, such as Topeka's Friendship Exchange, offer dating and social services. For a fee, representatives will help match you with an ideal date based upon similar criteria, photos and profiles.

"The best thing about our service, as opposed to the Internet, is that I meet and get to know both parties," said Jill Ellington, founder and owner of Friendship Exchange. "So it's just like being introduced through a friend."
Friendship Exchange also has a social club that offers special dinners and events, as well as mini-dates or speed dating -- the latest rage on both coasts -- where singles get a few minutes to get to know each other before moving on to the next person. Participant's ages range from 25 to 60.
The key to any social progress is an open mind and the realization that complacency and routine can be hindrances that inhibit, rather than structure us. Although the thought of doing yoga -- and posing as something titled "kneeling camel" -- sounds a little intimidating, laughing about it with the woman next to you couldn't hurt.
It's true: Prince Charming probably isn't hanging out in the produce aisle at Food 4 Less, but no harm could come from smiling at the cute guy checking his apples for bruises. You never know where that laugh or smile could lead.

Woman's Own Magazine- November 2003

"Unload a Husband, Haul in Riches"
By Karin Vaysburd

JILL ELLINGTON: Has she got a hot guy for you (and millions of other singles)! Jill Ellington's turbulent life and amazing determination to succeed are so dramatic, her story sound tailor-made for the movies. Married at 17, the Topeka, Kansas native has a 6-year-old by the time she divorced in 1986 at 23. Having lived with an abusive husband, she wanted to set a better example for her daughter. She worked full-time in an administrative role in a neurological institute and took college courses in psychology. In the meantime, she says, "I realized that it was important to be with someone who was my best friend, something my ex had never been." Based on that notion, she made an appointment at the small business development center, and wrote up a business plan. In 1991, she opened Friendship Exchange (friendshipexchange.net), a matchmaking service that focused on creating relationships that were more than skin-deep. She played matchmaker out of a small office above a fitness center in the evenings. One night, she was putting up flyers at the fitness center and a man asked her what she was doing. "When I told him about my new service, he told me I'd be out of businesses in six months," she said. But the two actually built a friendship. "After two years, we realized that we in love. We've been married for nine years, so I'd say that I am that I'm the best advertising for my service!" In 1992, Jill opened a second office in Kansas City, and by February 1993, she quit her day job to become a matchmaker full-time. She hand-picks client's dates and has been responsible for over 500 marriages so far! Over 600 clients pay $750 for a year-long membership. The Social Club membership costs $195 /year and doesn't include any personal matchmaking but does provide entrance into singles events.

The Capital Journal - October 9th 2003

"Rushing into love"
By Kasha Stoll

Local matchmaker says fitting eight dates into one evening is easier, and cheaper, than spreading them throughout the month

At 39, Dennis Blackmore is ready to settle down. Meeting the right woman, however, is proving easier said than done.

He has tried the bar scene, been on blind dates and networked through his friends, all to no avail.
"It's hard to meet people my age in this town except at bars," he said. "I don't know where they go."
Blackmore isn't alone.

"There are a lot of singles, particularly over the age of 35, that are having trouble meeting others," said Linda Noland-Crique, the Topeka office manager of Friendship Exchange. "So many people are going on the Internet, trying to do it on their own."

Jill Ellington opened Friendship Exchange in 1991 after learning firsthand how difficult it was to re-enter the dating scene. She and Noland-Crique both found marriage mates through the company.
Club members meet with Ellington for a one-on-one interview and are screened to make sure they are single and don't have any felony convictions. They then are placed in a database Ellington uses to handpick dates. She said at least 200 marriages have resulted from her matchmaking skills.

She estimates another 100 marriages can be attributed to speed dating and progressive events but said she has no way of tracking those success stories. Because events are open to the public, Ellington can't screen all participants and doesn't guarantee accuracy of information. Blackmore tried a progressive picnic first. Six to eight people sat a table and enjoyed the first course and some conversation. After 20 minutes, the men moved to the next table where they met three or four other women and repeated the process. Blackmore said he enjoyed himself and made several friends, male and female.

Speed dating is built on a similar concept, but offers seven-minute, one-on-one dates. Ellington provides a list of questions that can be used to get the conversations started, such as, "If you could do anything you wanted on your day off, what would it be?" Or "If I walked into your house right now, what would it tell me about you?"
Blackmore came prepared with a list of his own. His first question was, "What kind of person are you definitely not?" Describing himself as perceptive, Blackmore said he felt seven minutes was enough time to learn whether he wanted to meet a woman again or not.

Arminda Guerrero, 28, attended the same speed dating event as Blackmore. She said the seven-minutes dates were just like any other date -- depending on the man she was with, they could be too short or way too long.
Neither Blackmore nor Guerrero found their soul mate that night, a concept that for Blackmore is overrated.
"The timing has to be right," he said. "The older you get, the more accommodating you get."
For years, Blackmore wouldn't date a woman with kids. Now, he said, it doesn't matter. He is just looking for someone with whom to share his life.

Guerrero, on the other hand, isn't interested in getting married. While she wouldn't shy away if she found Mr. Right, she is interested more in finding someone to hang out with.
Of the two events, Blackmore said he enjoyed the progressive picnic more.
"There were more people involved, and the conversation didn't seem so personal," he said.
Blackmore may be using a modern approach to finding a spouse, but his philosophy is based on a centuries-old fable.

"One frog down," he said. "And who knows how many others to kiss."

Kansas City Magazine - April 2003

Adults in the new world of dating out there
By Ann Slegman

So how does a boomer or older gen x'er meet new people when forced to make the dating scene again? Local dating services and online arrangements offer a surprisingly easy and refreshing array of match-making opportunities.

Fast Talking: Speed-Dating

...Chris, a 49-year-old divorced father of a teenager, tried Facilidate but found the three-minute time limit chaotic. "It was so demanding to get through 50 people. I felt beat up. Then I went to a speed-dating party through the Friendship Exchange. Instead of the three minutes, we had seven. I talked with eight women and matched with three. That’s a 37 percent success rate. There was just more time to get to know someone."
Matchmaker, Make Me A Match: Dating Services

Jill Ellington, owner of The Relationship Headhunters, or www.RelationshipHeadhunters.com, has been in the business since 1991 and has more than 600 active members. During her 12-year tenure, she has arranged more than 200 marriages. "I'm very selective in choosing my clients. They tend to be professional, and I do an evaluation to determine interests, values, and backgrounds. I am more than just a salesperson; I do way too much in terms of customer service," she says with a laugh.

Ellington's typical client profile looks like this: divorced or never married white collar professional who doesn't smoke, drinks only moderately, is physically active, and is interested in the arts. She is able to send photographs and profiles by email.

Renee, a 39-year-old homemaker, met her husband the CEO of a manufacturing business, through The Relationship Headhunters. "Jill selected my future husband for me. Once we went out, we never wanted to see anyone else. My husband proposed to me after the third date. Since we've been married, we've traveled to Europe and own a house at the Lake of the Ozarks."

Comfort in Numbers: Singles Clubs/Religious Groups
An offshoot of Jill Ellington's Relationship Headhunters is the Friendship Exchange, a social club for single professionals seeking healthy lifestyles, friendships and relationships. She sponsors progressive dinners, speed-dating parties, and get-togethers four to six times a month, sometimes in her own home. "I believe in friendship first. And I love what I'm doing," says Ellington.

Copyright 2003 Kansas City Magazine
Transmitted April 2003

The Kansas City Star Almanac - June 24, 2001

Perfect Match
By Rasmi Simhan and Liz Austin

Jill Ellington is always on the lookout for love. In the supermarket, the flower shop and the gym she has her eyes peeled for Mr.-or Ms.-Right.

But this happily married woman isn't looking for herself. As a relationship headhunter, Ellington searches for the perfect match for her busy professional clients.

"I always have my antennas up," said Ellington, who established Friendship Exchange, a personal introduction service 10 years ago.

Ellington helps lovelorn locals, usually in their 30's and 40's, find their soul mate and best friend. After finding out exactly what a client is looking for in a mate, she will do anything from networking at conventions to designing advertising campaigns to make the match.

The 38-year-old Olathe woman insists that couples become friends before jumping into a romantic relationship. As friends, the pair can learn about each other's hopes, dreams and values and make sensible decisions.
"So many people don't understand that when they mix the friendship with the intimacy right from the beginning, it clouds their vision," she said.

"They can't see what the person is because they see only what they want them to be."
Although not every match she makes ends in marriage, more than 100 couples have tied the knot so far, Ellington said.

"It's something that's natural for me," she said. "I feel like God's given me this gift to pass on to other people." Copyright 2001 The Kansas City Star