Back in her college days, Sandy Feldman would routinely find dates for busloads of fraternity men -- then sit home herself.
"I weighed nearly 200 pounds, so I was everyone's friend, but no one's date."
Today she is 34, 100 pounds lighter, divorced and "in the singles world for the first time in my life.
"I'm having a great time. But I'm shocked by how many singles out there are in pain.
"Some are getting over divorce. Some are feeling their age and are anxious to have children. My best friend committed suicide because she couldn't hack it alone.
"But the biggest problem is just meeting people. Washington's singles scene is a very closed, segmented group that's hard to break into. One bar may be 'in,' but it's hard to meet people at a bar. There's a growing number of singles in the area, but not enough good avenues to meet each other."
So Feldman decided to use her skills as an experienced "fixer" -- "people were always calling me saying 'Fix me up' -- to start a Washington singles network.
Together with marketing research specialist Judy Solomon -- also a divorced, single parent -- Feldman launched "Singleminded" in June with an "Urban Cowboy" party at Elan.
Parties, she says, "are just a small part of the network's operation. Our focus will be a 'Singlesource' directory that lists organizations, clubs and events for area singles. We've already uncovered 400 singles' groups, and hope to get even more listings before the printing deadline for our (debut) January issue."
Published four times a year, the directory will include articles of interest to singles, pictures and information about the "Bachelor and Bachelorette of the Month" and a "Singlesearch" classified ad section that will be, she stresses, "legitimate, respectable and very clean cut.
"We also plan to run special-interest seminars geared to singles with topics like traveling single, investments for singles and crime prevention for people who live alone. We've already set up a single's night at Visage hair salon that will focus on exercise and beauty for women and men."
"The seminars will all include some social time," adds Solomon. "And they'll be held on week nights because lots of singles either have dates for weekends or won't be caught dead out alone on Saturday night."
The directory will be sold separately for $4.95, or will be included as part of the $20 network fee. Members also will receive advance notice of seminars and discount admission.
In May, Singlesminded plans to hold a Singles Fair at the Silver Spring Armory, featuring "anything of interest to singles or sold by singles." Says Feldman: "It'll be a chance to browse around, see interesting things, and meet people in a non-threatening atmosphere."
Other Singlesminded services will include $50-an-hour "personal consultation" -- Feldman's catch-all name for "nearly anything a client needs. cI shop for newly-divorced men who've been married 16 years and don't know how to shop. I take women out and get their hair fixed and make-up applied, I help people find a place to live -- whatever they need."
She also will make matches ($50 for the first hour's consultation and $250 if she finds the person several dates). "But I make no promises. If i feel I can't fix someone up after the consultation, I'll refund their money."
And "if there's time," she says, "we'll hold 'invitation-only' parties, selecting people from the network."