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Harrison man finds meaning in giving back through CVS workforce training program

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - 12/5/2022

Dec. 5—Harrison resident Sean Ware is coming off the Thanksgiving holiday feeling even more motivated to help those in need.

An Army veteran, Ware is associate manager of CVS Health'sWorkforce Innovation Training Center (WITC) in Pittsburgh, where he works to assist veterans and people transitioning from poverty.

"I'm thankful that I can make an impact in the community that needs this kind of place to exist," said Ware, 42. "CVS is dedicated to social justice equity."

Nestled in Ebenezer Baptist Church in Pittsburgh'sHill District, the training center serves as a classroom, a food bank, a warehouse and a doctor's office, providing a sustainable workforce training program.

Under Ware's management, WITC has trained more than 11,000 people for retail, pharmacy, audio/visual production and the culinary arts. Students use the church kitchen to whip up 400 hot meals a week that are delivered to area senior citizens.

Next year, Ware hopes to ramp it up to 800 meals a week.

"We are the only WITC inside of a church," he said. "The church was already doing benevolence. We just came in and amplified it. Instead of it just being church personnel doing the cooking, we are a workforce trainer for culinary personnel, and then they can go out and get a job as a cook."

WITC is meant to remove barriers that can change a person's path in life, Ware said.

"Anything that's a hindrance to sustaining meaningful employment, that's what we're there for, to provide those services," he said. "This position gives me a chance to make an impact in our local community and across the city."

The training program is open to anyone in Western Pennsylvania. Many who come through are veterans, something near to Ware's heart.

Raised in Pittsburgh'sEast End, Ware graduated from the former Langley High School in the city's Sheraden neighborhood and enlisted in the Army, serving nearly 10 years as a Patriot missile crewmember in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Joining the military was a natural choice for Ware, as it was his dream to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and two uncles who served in the Army, along with his aunt, who served in the Air Force.

Ware said it was his mother — "my biggest support system" — and his military experience that inspired him to continue on the path of helping and protecting others in the CVS workforce training role.

Ware said he understands the struggle transitioning from military to civilian life and feels easy talking with veterans about their concerns and needs.

Shirley Laidley, a teacher of the WITC pharmacy tech program, said the center has a strong working relationship with veterans, but Ware's kindness has made everyone feel welcome.

"Everybody he meets, he acts with compassion for," Laidley said.

The North Hills resident has worked with Ware for about a year and said he holds true to the values of the assistance program.

"He has a big heart, and that comes through with his actions," Laidley said.

Ware, a dad to four boys, settled with his family in the Valley in 2016, first in Tarentum and then in Natrona Heights near Highlands Middle School.

His years in the military caused his family to move a lot, and Ware said he is happy to have settled into a home in Harrison.

"With four boys ages 8 to 18, we're constantly busy," Ware said. "I wanted to give them a nice home where we can feel part of the community."

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya by email at or via Twitter .


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