When 27-year-old business school graduate Mason Wartman quit his Wall Street job to sell $1 pizza slices, to many of his friends it seemed like the anticlimax of a brilliant career. But the man was simply trying to achieve a different sort of greatness with his no-frills pizza shop, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, in Philadelphia’s Center City. In the past one year, the shop has served 8,500 free slices of pizza to homeless people, by harnessing the generosity of its patrons.
The shop operates by a ‘pay it forward’ system – customers who walk in to buy pizza can also sponsor a slice for a homeless person. In this way, about 30 to 40 homeless people are able to eat for free at Rosa’s every single day.
Even before the pay-it-forward scheme was implemented, Rosa’s Pizza, which is located on an almost vacant block, used to always give away free slices to hungry homeless people in the neighborhood. But one day last March, a customer asked if he could pay for the next homeless person who walked in. Wartman immediately agreed, and then put up a sticky note on the wall, just to keep track of the pre-paid slice.