A Fresh Veg Blog

Why We Go Red

by Loree Dowse | February 2017

Loree’s note: I was honored to give today’s blog reigns over to our CEO, Lorri Koster. Mann Packing has been a supporter of the American Heart Association for a long time, for a very personal reason. For us, February – Heart Month – is a time to focus on our health, our families, and all the things we have to live for. The AHA’s motto is “Life is Why.” So grab a tissue, and read about our “Why.”

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Hearts in Mann’s Broccolini Cafe that answer “why?”

The embers in the beach bonfires were fading to black; red, white and blue tissue paper decorations being taken off the wagons and bikes; leftover potato salad, watermelon and barbecue chicken wrapped up and put in the fridge. People were returning to work, kids to their day camps and the regular rhythm of summer life. 2005’s Fourth of July—that’s a wrap.

Joe Nucci, then the CEO of Mann Packing, along with his wife Debbie and two young boys, Matthew and Michael, were packing their suitcases to embark on what would be their first Disney cruise vacation.  I recall warmly now the time Joe  stuck his head into my cubicle a few months before exuberating, “Hey, Lor, I’m going on a cruise!” My name for him was never Lorri….it was always “Lor.” You could feel his excitement—he had a huge smile on his face. He couldn’t wait to take his family on the vacation of a lifetime.

It was July 6, 2005, when I got that late night phone call no one ever wants to get. My brother Joe had a heart attack while sleeping with his family in an Orlando hotel.  He was just 40 years old. Joe was not overweight, he did not smoke, he worked out about three times a week. Sure, his job was not stress free, but there were no signs that a fatal heart attack was brewing inside of him.

Heart disease is the number one killer in America. Yet no one is telling us to go out and get echo cardiograms the way we are told to get mammograms and colonoscopies. Why? If my brother had an echo the valve issues in his heart would have been detected and could have been repaired. A family and employees at this company could have been spared tremendous sorrow.

Together with Love 2017 (2)

Team Mann participating in Sunday’s Together with Love run

After my brother died I had an echo cardiogram done—but even with my family history of heart disease—I had to pay for it out of pocket. That’s why all of us at Mann Packing dedicate ourselves to supporting the American Heart Association to fund research and raise awareness about prevention and how to detect if you may have a heart health issue. Echo cardiograms should be as accessible and recommended as other preventative screenings.

Time has faded the more painful memories of losing Joe. We will always remember him—but now we honor him through action. We honor Joe by participating in February Heart Health activities. We wear RED on Go Red Day. We participate in the Together With Love Run.  Last year we had a company-wide health campaign called “Know Your Numbers” where we brought in the Visiting Nurses Association to do blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, blood work and other screenings. We had over 200 employees participate and many of them were shocked at what their numbers revealed. Five had to be taken directly to the hospital.  I’m happy to report they are all on a healthy road to recovery.

We sell our fresh veggies to employees for “a buck a bag.” We provide a free gym for our employees along with personal training, circuit classes, Zumba (my current favorite) and Pilates (not to mention the ping pong table in the Broccolini® Café which sees plenty of action thro

Mann's Annual Go Red Photo

Mann’s Annual Go Red Photo

ughout the day. We have a company-wide tournament scheduled in March).

I miss my big brother….all of us at Mann miss Joe…but living our lives to the fullest is the best way we can remember and honor him. Not just in February, but every day.

This Valentine’s Day take a minute to get to know your heart better. Do you know your numbers? Are you living your life to the fullest? If not for you, for those you love? Do it for yourself—do it for Joe.

5 Comments

  • Lisa Kisch says:

    I am so sorry for your loss! The more I read about Mann’s a company owned by women the more I adore your products and your people. I suffered a stroke on 09-06-16 and have fully recovered. I enjoy the products you folks sale and am thrilled you have expanded your lines of veggies.

    Earlier this month I was Federal Expressed five bags of your Culinary Cuts!!! What a wonderful surprise.

    Love what you are doing for the US of A people and our health. Having Susan Cameron on your team is a blessing too! Keep doing what you are doing! You are a wonderful organization and I love what you do!

  • Rex says:

    I have many great memories of Joe, and especially how he always put his wife and kids first. He was a great positive influence!

  • Tina Sexton says:

    My family has a history of heart disease and we lost several family members including my dad to heart attacks. I am 55 yrs old and need a echo due in part of hormone influx during menopause. Sometimes when I am in bed my heart starts racing. I am currently on a low dose of high blood pressure medication. I also grew up with my friend Debbie Panis Nucci in Watsonville, I am so sorry for her and your families loss. He was way to young. I also have a family connection to Salinas, my mother and her siblings were born and raised in Spreckles. Many family members still live in Salinas. Thank you for sharing your story and love your company’s products.

    • Loree Dowse says:

      Hi Tina – thank you so much for your comment. Joe and his legacy are still very much present around here. –Loree

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