“In giving, we are all giving; it is not just me.”
“I want to be a doctor,” Joe D’Addario replied when his mother asked him as a young boy what he wanted to be one day. Unfortunately, due to cancer, his mother was taken too soon to see how her son’s life would unfold. Joe was fifteen years old. In the end, he did not pursue a medical career, but became involved in the health food industry to supply wholesome food for a healthier, stronger community, and to help prevent cancer. Joe vowed to do everything possible to help others beat the disease.
Joe and his wife, Mary, live in Uxbridge and have three kids. They run their family business, Nature’s Emporium, together with his brother, Guy, and his wife Teresa, and the Tavernese family who are also quite involved. Joe is President of Nature’s Emporium, an organic grocer started in 1993. He has seen people become more aware of the benefits of healthy eating and better educated than ever before about what they consume.
Joe was photographed outside the Stronach Aurora Recreation Complex (SARC) because of his company’s association with Southlake, and their fundraising efforts through the event which takes place there annually. This fundraiser is the evolution of the Bob Hartwell Challenge that began in 2002 as a tribute to Bob, and is now called the Nature’s Emporium Run or Walk for Southlake. Joe and his team continue to wage the fight against cancer by not only being the event’s title sponsors for the Southlake Regional Health Centre Foundation, but by participating as well. Joe runs in honour and memory of his father, Angelo, who battled prostate cancer and was treated at Southlake Hospital from 2005 until 2006. Joe’s wife, Mary, handles much of the fundraising for Southlake, plus the coordinating of volunteers, and also encourages her staff to participate, whether running themselves or being there to hand out refreshments and water bottles.
Joe, his staff, and partners felt that being the title sponsor of this event was a common sense decision; some of the customers who shopped at their store were going through illnesses and were shopping there to maintain and promote their health and recovery. Since the hospital is there for the community, it seemed like a logical partnership, while honouring his parents. When Nature’s Emporium became involved with the Run or Walk for Southlake, it took the event to the next level in 2015, with 1,900 participants, young and old, coming out in support of a worthy cause.
“Our logo is ‘your neighbourhood health food market.’ People come to meet for a coffee or a fresh juice and there is a place where they can socialize, like a community centre; everybody here knows everyone by name. More than just a grocery store, it’s like a gathering place.”
The company started as a small family business in Newmarket in a 4,000 square-foot store. Today when you walk through the doors at Nature’s Emporium, you still feel that intimate ambiance, but it is now known as a health and wellness supermarket, covering 50,000 square feet.
“Having achieved some success and being able to give back to our community who helped us succeed brings me a feeling of gratitude.”
Since opening their doors, the business has always been involved in giving to worthwhile causes in the area, whether it be with gift baskets, gift cards, or supporting local events. Joe feels the community has been so good to them in their twenty-one years as retailers, and during this time they’ve developed many friendships with their customers.
Southlake Regional Health Centre Foundation contributes to every field, but cancer is closest to the family’s heart because of Joe’s father and the care he received there. Nature’s Emporium bought a hospital bed at the last fundraising gala, another sign that Southlake remains the main focus of their philanthropy. For the future, their Vaughan store is working toward fundraising for Mackenzie Health, for the new hospital that is being built in that community.