Woman gives back to her community by playing matchmaker

By Natasha Dado
Nearly everyday Theresa Sitto works passionately to enrich her community by helping people get closer to finding that special someone to spend the rest of their lives with.

Sitto is the founder of MATCHaldean, a confidential matchmaking service available to anyone who’s interested in dating a Chaldean, and seriously considering marriage.

The testimonies on MATCHaldean’s site featuring happy couples on their wedding day who met through the service are proof of Sitto’s profound impact.

Since first launching in July 2009, MATCHaldean has resulted in seven reported marriages and one “MATCHaldean” baby.

Sitto, a Chaldean American, was born in the United States, and resides in Southeast Michigan, home to the largest concentration of Chaldeans in the country. Chaldeans are Catholics from Iraq.

Sitto’s work is definitely needed in the community. “I think the community realizes what a phenomenal service this is,” she said. Already hundreds of Chaldeans from 14 states and six countries have registered to use the service. “They started coming, and they never stopped.”

Recently a Chaldean from Dubai was matched up with a Chaldean from Sweden, and Chaldeans from California and Detroit were connected.

MATCHaldean’s mission is to keep the Chaldean culture and community alive by confidentially connecting compatible Chaldeans. Most of its singles reside in Michigan, California, Arizona, Illinois and Ontario.

Personal and private matchmaking services can run hundreds to thousands of dollars, but Sitto keeps prices affordable to ensure everyone has a shot at finding love.

The first step to getting started is filling out a free online questionnaire. After reviewing it, Sitto will contact the prospective client to meet for an interview at one of three MATCHaldean offices in metro-Detroit at no charge to determine who’s a suitable match for the person. You don’t pay anything until agreeing to a potential match. There’s a $35 match fee, and a $100 registration fee. Sitto also does training if it’s needed.

Despite the amount of income the business generates Sitto still puts in a lot of time and effort into it because of what a difference it’s making in people’s lives.

“I took on this task, and I do it with all my heart. I have a passion for it. How can I stop when I have people text messaging me saying don’t forget about us singles or anyone new for me?”

On a typical workday Sitto is busy meeting with clients, and taking their calls, text messages and emails. “It’s a lot of work and I take it very, very seriously. Often times people think it might be fun. I don’t think of it as fun, it’s a mission and its hard work,” she said. Sitto has given hope to people who thought they would never get married. A 36-year-old got married, and ended up having a baby because of MATCHaldean. Another man, age 69 was matched up with a woman in her late fifties.

Sitto has clients who’re divorced and widowed. Clients have ranged from ages 18 to 80, but most are in their mid-thirties.

Sitto’s love for the Chaldean community fuels her passion. “It’s a part of who I am. I love everything about being Chaldean,” she said. Every year MATCHaldean sponsors a scholarship through the Chaldean Federation of America. “As an educator it’s important to make sure people in the Chaldean community continue their education. It’s something that I believe in because I was an educator. I like to see our Chaldean children go on to college and succeed.”

Sitto remembers people contacting her mother, and asking for one of her sisters hands in marriage. This was a common practice, and still occurs today although it’s not as common since the community has become more Americanized and many Chaldeans are now dating, which was once looked down on.

Often Chaldean women would be approached about getting married after being spotted somewhere, or word of mouth getting out that a family had a single daughter. If the woman was interested in meeting the man who asked for her hand, he would visit her home with his relatives. Soon after relatives of the woman would receive a call from the man’s family inquiring about whether the woman was interested in seeing the man again. If so, then after a few visits or even a date an engagement was announced and wedding plans were initiated.

Sitto saw her share of suitors, and in the 1970s she began to notice how dating practices were changing. Women wanted more freedom when it came to dating and seeing a suitor. It started to become common for Chaldean women to date without the knowledge or approval of their parents.

There was the perception that if girls dated and things didn’t work out, it would leave a negative mark on their reputations, and make it harder for them to get married.

In 1972 Sitto founded the Chaldean American Youth Club, in an effort to connect single Chaldeans with one another. The Club lasted over a decade. Many people got married after meeting at the CAYC including Sitto who’s been happily married for 29 years. She has four children, two sons and two daughters.

The idea of matching up compatible Chaldeans in the community emerged after Sitto reflected on the history of Chaldean dating traditions in America.

After retiring from a 30-year career in teaching, her son who is a lawyer thought of the idea for MATCHaldean. “It’s something new and different,” Sitto says.

She is the first Chaldean matchmaker, and MATCHaldean is the only known Chaldean matchmaking service that exists.

Sitto comes from a family of 14 children. Her father always wanted her to associate with and marry Chaldeans. She’s is a retired ESL teacher who has a Masters in Aramaic studies from Wayne State University.

MATCHaldean is not an online dating site. “With MATCHaldean I only want people who are serious marriage minded people. This is not about finding a date for Saturday night,” Sitto said.

MATCHaldean has caught the attention of a number of different notable publications including the Detroit Free Press.

A bulk of the people who’ve sought its services are working professionals that include doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses among others who have invested lots of time in their education and may not have had time to date.

Sitto has been invited to some of the weddings of people she’s matched up. At one a toast was given to MATCHaldean, and the mother of the bride was circulating Sitto’s cards around the wedding.

MATCHaldean provides a safe environment for people to meet. It’s not an online dating site that posts people’s personal information.

Sitto checks driver’s licenses, and divorce papers. She also advises clients not to disclose their names or contact information on the first date in case they’re not willing to go out on a second date with the person.

No one will see your information other than Sitto. Those who reside outside of Michigan are also required to send identification.

“No one has anything to do with the people but me. I am the only person who has personally spoken with or interviewed, or worked with the clients.” Sitto believes the person you choose to marry is the most important decision you’ll ever make.

Sitto accepts the enormous responsibility she puts on herself. “I don’t think that I can do it alone. Every single day, before I even get out of bed my prayer is for God to help me make good matches that lead to good marriages from God, to me, to them. That’s my prayer.”

For more information on MATCHaldean visit www.matchchaldean.com or call 248.758.2303. The main office is located in Bloomfield Hills, and there are offices in Troy and Novi.