It all started with a brief conversation during a class visit at Westover Job Corps in Chicopee, Massachusetts sometime during the middle of the winter in early 2012. Bob Fay, Pharmacy Tech class teacher at WJC, and Rick Laferriere, Manager of Workforce Initiatives for CVS Caremark, tossed around the idea of building a mock pharmacy inside of his modest classroom for the benefit of the program and the students. There were materials available to do so, but the project required time, transportation and some creative building skills.
When it had all come together, CVS Caremark and Westover Job Corps opened the mock pharmacy inside of Bob’s classroom on Wednesday, September 12, 2012, much to the delight of Bob and his students. The mock pharmacy was built with contributions from both CVS Caremark and WJC, and both organizations celebrated the re-opening of the classroom with a Grand Opening event.
“Having this mock pharmacy setup from CVS is more than I could have ever imagined,” says Bob. “When I first talked to CVS about having a presence in the class, I was thinking of drop-off and pick- up signs and maybe CVS letters on the wall.”
“As this setup started to take place I knew that it was going to be something special. It soon became talk of the center. Students and staff alike came from all over campus to take a look at it,” says Bob, who has been teaching at the school for over 5 years while also working as a Pharmacy Technician at CVS/pharmacy Store 693 in Chicopee, MA.
Alice Buckner, Business and Community Liaison for Westover Job Corps, said “transforming our pharmacy tech classroom to a mock CVS Pharmacy has ignited so much enthusiasm with our students. It underscores the connection between vocational training and real world employment.”
Westover Job Corps is a no-cost education and vocational training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor that helps young people ages 16 through 24 improve the quality of their lives through vocational and academic training, with 125 locations nationwide to serve youth.
To date, Bob and the Pharmacy Tech class at WJC has served nearly 100 students, with more than 20 of those students being hired by CVS upon completing the program. The class covers many of the necessary skills and competencies to become a successful Pharmacy Technician, including math, customer service and compounding skills. The students complete an externship in a CVS store prior to completing the program, giving them a brief opportunity to experience hands-on work in a live pharmacy.
“This program can change the lives of those who complete it,” says Bob. “Some use it as an opportunity to become independent, role models for family and friends, and others use it as a stepping stone to a lifelong career. It is my hope that my students learn more than just becoming great technicians but learn how to be great people as well.”
The partnership between CVS Caremark and Westover Job Corps is exemplary of CVS Caremark’s commitment to serving the community and to youth. With the mock pharmacy now completed in Bob’s classroom, more of Bob’s students will now be able to learn the skills they need to be successful Pharmacy Technicians, all in a real, hands-on setting.