Dear Readers,
Instead of my usual column, given the times we are in, I thought that I would write about the importance of acts of kindness. We see videos on social media, showing people fighting over toilet paper. So many are suffering emotionally and financially due to the COVID-19 crisis and could easily slip into a state of worry and isolation. And ironically, social distancing is the best practice to slow the spread to flatten the curve.

One thing for sure is this: We are all in this together and part of the human experience. Now it is more important than ever to be kind to one another: Checking in on our elderly neighbors, engaging in face time with those who are alone and more.

When I reflect on acts of kindness and how far reaching it can be, I think of an optician friend in Atlanta, Ga., Yaacov Wexler (or “Wexi” as he is affectionately known). Yaacov is a graduate of Dekalb College’s opticianry program and is a licensed optician in the state of Georgia. I first met him at VEE a few years ago, and we became fast friends.

Yaacov has become part of our family and is one of the most positive people I have ever met. He consistently shares uplifting posts on optical social media and sends surprise care packages to opticians around the country. So for this article, Dear Readers, may I introduce you to Yaacov “Wexi” through this interview with him.

Ms. Specs: Yaacov, you have certainly made an impression on optical social media through your uplifting posts and random acts of kindness. When did you start this, and what gave you the idea?

Yaacov: The earliest that I remember was from August 2018. I took an envelope and put in a Starbucks gift card along with a handwritten note. I did this because I wanted to spread happiness around to other opticians in Georgia simply based on most likely not meeting them in person. I figured that a kind gesture would be the next best gift to give. In late August, I was invited to visit an optical practice in order to say hello in person. I brought my eyeball bowling ball “Iris” to show, as well as a care package of goodies for the staff to enjoy. When the manager posted a picture of the goodies on the Opticians on Facebook group afterward, it gave me the idea of sending out more care packages down the road along with an optical item of sorts. As I observed what was going on over social media, I realized more and more that our optical communities (we are all one and the same) could use refreshing acts of kindness in the form of surprise care packages.

Can you recall how many care packages you have sent to states and optical businesses?
Since 2019, I have sent care packages and handwritten letters out to over 50 optical business and personal addresses, spanning roughly 32 states, from Alaska to Florida to New Hampshire and Maine. My goal is to reach all 50 states in 2020.

I was fortunate enough to receive a care package from you for Christmas, and during SECO in March, and I have a question: Where do you find such fabulous optically related personalized items?
Optical items for the care packages come from a variety of places, which include: eBay, Walmart, Half Price Books, Target, TJMaxx and Cafe Press. On occasion, if I see something else that catches my eye, pun intended, or when I find a great deal on an item, then I try to think about who on my list might benefit next from it.

Is there any advice you can give to fellow opticians to inspire them to follow suit and show kindness to others?
Social media can be used as a platform for good, especially when we as opticians can get caught up in the negativities of life. It’s best to focus more on the positive aspects of what we have in our lives as opposed to what we don’t have. Acts of kindness toward others, no matter how big or small can go a long way toward unity, friendship and simply putting a smile on someone else’s face. You never know how you can uplift a person and change their day for the better.

See Well and Be Well,
Ms. Specs in the City
Laurie Pierce, ABOM

Do you have a question for Ms. Specs? Please send your question to [email protected], and we may feature it in a future column.