Mason Wartman, owner of Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has made a huge difference in the lives of those in need. Wartman decided to start a “pay it forward” system to help the many homeless people populating the area around his restaurant. As a part of this system, anyone can come into Rosa’s and redeem one of the colorful sticky notes on the wall for a slice of pizza that a previous customer paid for.
The movement started when a customer inquired as to whether any homeless ever came into the restaurant, and he offered to pay forward a $1 slice for someone who could not afford it. Wartman took it upon himself to encourage other customers to participate. His customers soon latched onto the idea, and it quickly took off. As of now, the restaurant has given away approximately 10,000 pizza slices.
The walls in Rosa’s are covered from top to bottom with sticky notes, so there are always plenty of extra slices to go around. Rosa’s is happy to allow anyone in any situation to redeem a sticky note, no questions asked. One woman said that she regularly donates about $5 each week, but one day she came into the restaurant and realized she had left her wallet at home. She didn’t have enough money with her to buy a slice, but she benefitted from the pay it forward system when the employees told her not to worry about it and to enjoy her meal anyway. “It’s just a great thing,” she said. “And the pizza is good!”
One customer said that “in a city with a poverty rate that is higher than all other big cities comparable to it, to see such a show of compassion and brotherly love is really inspiring.”
Another man who had come in regularly for a long period of time while he was living on the streets returned to Rosa’s after being absent for a few months. Wartman confessed to wondering where he’d gone and inquired as to how he’d been since he stopped coming in. He learned that the man had gotten a job and, since he was now able to support himself, the man wanted to pay forward a slice of pizza for someone else. It was his turn to provide the same kind of compassion that had allowed him to get back on his own two feet.
“I think it’s pretty cool how powerful something this small and simple can be,” said Wartman.