You know that feeling when someone tells you something and it puts a smile on your face immediately? Here’s the quick story…

 A woman named Teresa was born in Italy 60 years ago. She was adopted by American parents as a young child. She currently lives in southeastern Mass. The last time she went back home to Italy was 40 years ago. Four decades. 14,600 days. 350,400 hours. 21,024,000 minutes. That’s a long time. Teresa has always been a “giver” and has never asked for anything. She didn’t ask for what happened next. Teresa is best friends with our awesome optician, Joan Souto.  Joan works in our Plymouth office.  If you know Joan, you know how passionate she is about caring for patients and the little things in life. Joan did something that makes us smile… something that makes us realize how much she cares for people. She worked hard…Saved up $6,000…And gave Teresa the best 60th birthday present she could ever dream of.

Joan paid for Teresa to return home to Italy, for the first time in 40 years, so she could see her family.

 Joan vividly remembers the moment she and Teresa stepped off the bus. Teresa’s 87-year-old aunt was waiting with arms wide open.  Like something out of a movie, the two embraced in a long hug, filled with tears of joy and unforgettable smiles. “The feeling I got seeing both of them cry and hug each other was the best gift I could ever give someone. I’ll never forget that moment,” said Joan. Joan and Teresa spent the next two weeks in Italy - something Teresa never would’ve expected or asked for. Here’s a picture of Joan in Italy… Teresa is a little camera shy :)

Here is one view the two of them got to share. Teresa took this picture - beautiful!

Joan and Teresa have been best friends for 13 years… and that number will only go up.

People like Joan make BayState Eye Center so special. “People are hungry for the type of quality we provide. The small things, the little things are important. That handshake. That smile. We’re communicating and building relationships. It’s not something you get at many places these days. We’re building something special at BayState Eye Center,” she said. We’ve been lucky enough to have Joan on our team for the past three years. She’s been in the business for 30 years. “I love making a difference for every person and patient I meet. I strive to pay it forward with the hope that they will one day pay it forward to someone else,” she said. Joan got in the business when she was just 17-years-old.

 *How* she got into it is an interesting story in itself. Make sure you ask her about it during your next eye exam. It’s a memorable one. Also make sure to ask her about working at her father’s restaurant, “Howard’s Lunch” in New Bedford, when she was just eight-years-old. Want to get the rest of the scoop from Joan herself? Joan’s really good at putting smiles on peoples’ faces. We hope her story put one on yours.