Dear Fabulous Readers,
I recently came across a social media post that was a shining example of an optician, Jonathan Rory, paying it forward and lending a helping hand to Michele, who would go on to become one of our field’s newest opticians. I asked each to share a bit about this beautiful collaboration.

Jonathan: “I love the idea of paying it forward. John Denver sang of his old guitar giving him his life. In many ways, the opticianry world has put a roof over my head and provided for my family of five, and blessed me with many treasured relationships.

“My story of paying it forward happened when I reached out to Michele, someone I saw as just an all-around good human being. Too often, all that’s needed to set us apart is not being a jerk. But with Michele, it was more than this; she was special. In her, I saw genuineness, kindness and intelligence. I saw a person who deserved a break after life recently dealt her a heavy blow.

“I shared Michele’s inspirational success in a social media post “Why I love Optical!” Shy of five years ago, I had several patients, as well as a couple of employees, rave about a waitress at a delicatessen near our office. I had to meet Michele. Quickly I recognized that there was something special about her. She was so bright, kind and hard-working. She mentioned that her recent re-entry into the workforce after 20 years of raising her four children as a stay-at-home mom was due to the ending of her marriage in divorce. She was working hard for minimum wage and minimal tips. I told Michele about the world of optical and quickly brought her on as an apprentice optician. We worked together for a couple of years before my career took me in a different direction. Yesterday I received a text message with a picture that Michele had just received her license to be an optician in the state of Tennessee. She might not be rich but going from minimum wage to an over $50,000 a year salary in less than five years is a testament to Michele and all her wonderful attributes, as well as our beloved field that made it possible for her to thrive!”

Michele: “When Jonathan told me about becoming an optician and offered me a job as an apprentice optician, I was hesitant. My reluctance was because I thought more change at this point in my life was scary. But I decided that I was not going to say no anymore to opportunity. I took the plunge, and I loved it. I am proud to say that although it took me from March 2017 to March 2021 to get my ABO, NCLE, Career Progression Program and license, it was worth it. I’m so grateful to Jonathan for seeing something in me that made him take me under his wing and introduce me to the world of opticianry. There are some fantastic humans in this field of work, and I’m very thankful to be a part of it. Just last week I was helping my coworker with her ABO prep and encouraging her to sign up for a course that will help. I will definitely pay it forward, too!”

In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “It is one of the beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself.”

Evidence indicates that the giving of one’s time or treasure makes the world a better place for both giver and recipient, according to Dr. Stephen Post, a professor of preventive medicine and bioethics at Stony Brook University School of Medicine.

Dr. Post focuses on the relationship between giving and happiness, longevity and health, and the author of The Hidden Gifts of Helping and Why Good Things Happen to Good People. He states, “According to brain scans, the mere thought of helping others by planning to make a donation makes people happier. Such thoughts activate the mesolimbic pathway in the brain that is associated with happiness and production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Actual face-to-face helping also triggers areas of the brain associated with happiness.”

And so, Dear Readers, we can see how a single act of kindness sprouts many branches. Reach out to others with your skill and knowledge and see what grows! Keep being the optical rock stars that you are!

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.