Kaffeehaus Cafe regularly raises money for community causes. This time, they decided to return a regular customer’s goodwill.

By David S. Rotenstein

Photo: Jerry Cozewith with Kaffeehaus owners, Tammy and Chris Waraks. The Warakses held a benefit for Cozewith in their store on Saturday, Sept. 14, to send him and his wife Rosemary on their dream vacation. By David S. Rotenstein

There’s something about Jerry Cozewith that brings out the best in people. Tammy Waraks, who owns Historic Deutschtown’s Kaffeehaus Café, says one word best describes Cozewith: inspiring. That’s why she and her husband, Chris, hosted a party for Cozewith in their store on Saturday, Sept. 14.

Cozewith, 66, was diagnosed last year with stage four brain cancer, the same disease that killed former Arizona Senator John McCain and former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Beau. Over the past few months, the Warakses have been raising money to send Cozewith and his wife Rosemary on their dream vacation to Alaska.

Cozewith spent a career in nonprofits. He and his wife have lived in Pittsburgh since 1998. After leaving the American Red Cross, Cozewith co-founded Entrepreneuring Youth, a nonprofit that taught middle and high school students skills to start their own businesses. In 2015, he became the director of development for Sarah Heinz House. While there, he became a regular Kaffeehaus customer after the store opened in 2017.

Tammy Waraks said that Cozewith would bring new employees to the store. She said that Cozewith used to come to the store four times a week before the illness forced him to retire earlier this year. “And when he’s here, he’s buying people coffee. He’s at the crossing guard over there, paying out for her coffee,” said Waraks.

Kaffeehaus, which regularly raises money for community causes, decided to return Cozewith’s goodwill. Waraks invited more than 20 of Cozewith’s friends and former co-workers to the benefit. Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert, who has let the store sell some of his photos for charity, also attended. Gift baskets donated by local businesses, including Wagsburgh and Betsy Ann Chocolates, were raffled off. At the end, Waraks presented Cozewith with a check for $1,900.

“I’m honored that they picked me to have a benefit for and my wife and I are humbled,” said Cozewith. “I’d like to best be known as a guy who just retired from Sarah Heinz House as opposed to a guy with a disease.”