(Left to right) Morgan Casey and Donnah Thomas share a laugh. The couple, now engaged, started one of St. Louis' most popular Facebook groups.
Couple Morgan Casey and Donnah Thomas spent their pandemic going on outdoor dates together. Lots of dates. Dates in every corner of the St. Louis area. Picnics in the park and sky-diving in Illinois.
As they found hidden gem after hidden gem, Casey posted date spots to her personal social media account. She posted about Airbnb treehouses and the sunflower fields at the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area.
The posts went viral, she says, and “the people went crazy,” Casey remembers.
The response drove Casey and Thomas, who are now engaged, to start a Facebook group page
in July 2020 called Date Ideas & Things to Do in STL
, where people discuss events, neighborhoods and restaurants to visit.
Two years later, Date Ideas & Things To Do in STL is one of the most popular Facebook groups in the area, with over 287,000 members and 27 million annual profile views.
“We thought we were going to have, like, maybe 500 members or something,” Casey says. “We had like over 5,000 in the first couple of weeks. So it blew up really quickly.”
It became Casey's full-time job, and she became an unofficial booster for the city. One of the main goals of the Facebook group is to highlight businesses that can’t afford expensive billboards or ad campaigns.
“We don't allow any negativity whatsoever,” Casey says. “...That's not what we're here for. We're here to uplift and make sure that we're supporting, especially our small, local minority-owned businesses, especially during a pandemic.”
Since founding the St. Louis page, Casey and Thomas, who are also business partners, have started groups in 17 places, including Kansas City, Atlanta and Kenya, with over 650,000 members altogether.
“I love that there's some of everyone in my group, from different ages to gender, sexuality, race, all of that,” Casey says. “I think that it's important to have those spaces where people feel safe and are able to learn about other people's culture.”
A photo from 2022 St. Louis PrideFest.
Bringing people together isn’t new to Casey, though. For years, she oversaw iDream ENT, a company that organized events for adults in St. Louis, such as prom, Easter egg hunts and speed dating. Casey and Thomas were even featured in People Magazine
and the Wall Street Journal
So running a Facebook group must have been easy, right?
Far from it, Casey says. The Facebook group requires her to constantly monitor the page. She has to admin hundreds of thousands of members, line up advertisers, manage 30 staff members and drum up new date ideas.
It started as an additional responsibility to her main job as a memory care director, a position she held for nearly 10 years.
But spending days in the hospital and nights in the Facebook groups became “outrageously very consuming.” In November 2021, Casey quit her job as director to run Date Ideas & Things to Do full-time.
The job still comes with its challenges though. Mental health, specifically.
“It's so important for people, just on the regular, to take a break from social media — just because it’s healthy,” she says. “But it's really hard when your career is social media, so I can't just walk away.”
But she has no plans to change her profession. This is what she wants to do. Now, she knows people, restaurants and attractions all over the world. A few weeks ago, she went to Chicago — and before she even arrived, she already had a trip to the Museum of Ice Cream lined up.
“I love it,” she says. “I wouldn't want to do, honestly, anything else.”