By Catherine Romney
A free movie premiere screening – three of them, actually – and a barbeque the following day is not a typical LDS singles event.
Hosted by Deecus.com, a recently launched Web site, this party was designed to bring LDS singles together to network and have a good time together.
While the name Deecus might sound unusual at first, in Latin, the word ”decus” means honor, strength and moral integrity – values that founders David Hyte, Shawn Moore and Chad Ramos want to be basis the of all of their business endeavors.
Hyte and Moore, both BYU graduates, and Ramos, a UVSC graduate, launched Deecus.com with the goal of connecting LDS singles in unique ways.
“Our main goal is to make the individual”s life a little bit better by connecting singles in ways other than the normal dating methods,” Ramos said. “We want to help people connect in their professional lives and their social lives.”
The idea for the Web site came to Ramos while he was attending a business conference in Boston in August 2005. At night, others from the conference would hit the bars and Ramos found himself wondering where the LDS singles were and what they were doing.
When it came to time to find a singles ward to attend in the area, he had difficulty locating one through the Church”s Web site, where the name of the stake is necessary to locate the singles ward in a specific area.
Ramos decided there should be a central location that someone could go to find this information – a site with the locations and times of all LDS singles wards, listings of events in the area and so on.
When he returned home to Las Vegas, he talked the idea over with business partners Hyte and Moore.
“We thought to ourselves, what would we need? What would we find useful? What would make our life better?” Ramos said. “Everything else just came. It made sense.”
The Web site currently features five separate categories- Singles Ward, Local Events, Housing/Roommate Search, Career Center and Life- all designed to connect ussers in their social and professional lives.
In the future, Ramos said they will be adding new and innovative programs that will allow people to communicate and network with each other, such as forum and message boards and House Swap and Business Trade programs.
The Web site has been a work-in-progress since November 2005. Ramos” assistant, Marleah Wilson, took over the tedious task of researching all of the LDS singles wards in the United States by clicking on each and every stake listed on the LDS Church”s official site and adding the information for the singles wards onto the Deecus.com master list.
Wilson, along with other employees, researched the Web for all of the information that is now available on Deecus.com.
The Las Vegas event was the official launch party for Deecus.com, with screenings of the new “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie on Friday night and a barbeque Saturday night.
The event was free to attendees, while Deecus.com owners funded both the movie and the barbeque.
“We wanted people to walk away [from the Vegas activity] with the attitude that it was a blast and want to do something like it again,” Hyte said. “We also wanted to give them a fun, free activity where they can start networking with people from other wards from both in-state and out-of-state.”
Ramos reported 770 people attended the three movie screenings and more than 600 people showed up for the barbeque. Singles came from all over the West Coast area to attend the event.
“We had people coming up to us, saying ”Thank you for this activity!”” Ramos said. “It was amazing, we were very pleased.”
Brian Hansen, a BYU student and BYU Sports Camp counselor, drove down to Las Vegas last weekend to volunteer at the event. He helped with crowd control and ushering at the movie screenings.
“I think [Deecus] will get bigger and bigger,” Hansen said. “There is the social side of it and there is the business side. The idea is right on.”
Upcoming Deecus.com events include a weekend trip to Disneyland in August, a back-to-school event in Provo the first weekend of Fall Semester, a charity golf tournament, an Arizona activity and a New Year”s Eve formal in Las Vegas.
Hyte said these parties, trips and dances are a way of getting the word out about Deecus.com.
“We know and understand the importance of word of mouth, especially with LDS young single adults. This is why we use our budget to put on these events, rather than using the traditional media vehicles,” Hyte said. “The majority of people will probably end up finding out about Deecus from their friends.”
Deecus.com is not only about social events, but service, as well. The Deecus Foundation, the non-profit wing of Deecus.com, organizes service project opportunities for LDS singles. They will soon be taking a group down to Mexico, working with Project Coraz?n to build houses.
Career Center: Employers are able to post job openings and those interested can submit their resume. Each posting is specific to the area of the country and is also updated regularly.
Singles Ward: Offers a complete listing of all LDS singles wards in the United States, including location and meeting time.
Local Events: Includes a listing of the top 10 restaurants, attractions, parks, shopping and dessert places in the area, as well as listings for concerts, cultural and sporting events, church activities and Deecus-sponsored events.
Housing/Roommate Search: Allows users to search for available housing or roommates in the area. Users can post available housing as well.
Life: Features articles and blogs on finance, personal fitness, LDS history and news, and simple how-to features.