Still Paying It Forward

Occasionally here on the blog, we get a chance to give you an update on a post we’ve previously shared. A while back, I shared the story of a Philadelphia pizzeria by the name of Rosa’s that created a pay-it-forward program so successful it was feeding hundreds of homeless people in the City of Brotherly Love. Rosa’s patrons began donating pizza slices to their community as a random act of kindness in a city that continually sees some of the highest poverty rates in the nation. These RAOKs were originally tallied by post-it notes stuck on the walls of the pizzeria, and although they still adorn the place, Rosa’s has since turned to other methods of accounting.


It turns out we weren’t the only ones smitten with this story. It went viral, with statistics like 35 million shares on Facebook and 800,000 shares on the Internet. All those shares brought owner Mason Wartman into the limelight, garnering him interviews with the likes of Ellen Degeneres, as well as features with Good Morning America and People Magazine.

And what do you suppose has happened as a result of all that media attention? 50,000 slices of donated pizza happened. In just one year. And the program is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, Mason has plans to open a second location very soon, with a possibly expanded menu. There’s also talk of expansion to Rosa’s online store, which currently gives away a pair of socks or a pair of gloves for each pair sold. Fifty percent of the sales of the rest of Rosa’s apparel, which features the designs of homeless artists, goes back into the program, and those sales now account for 10 percent of all donated slices. Amazing! And as an added bonus from this boom in business, Rosa’s Pizzeria has had to bring on more staff, so Mason coupled with agencies that connect homeless folks with jobs. The old adage “start by helping those closest to you” certainly applies in this case. If we could all follow Rosa’s lead, maybe 2016 will come to be known as the year the world exploded with random acts of kindness.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Thanks Megan for this update. It is amazing and heart warming that one small location of generosity exploded into a business that is rapidly expanding it’s help to Philadelphia’s most needy citizens. I am joining you in hoping that examples like Rosa’s will help the world explode with RAOKS in 2016. There is so much need out there!!

  2. Virginia Meyer says:

    There is a company “out there” that sells shoes, and for every pair bought, one pair is donated to a homeless person. I wish I could remember their name, but I’m sure one could look them up on the internet. I thought that was very cool.

  3. every time I read about the good works of Rosa’s it brings tears to my eyes.This is a man/family who is living the real deal and truly making a difference. So why aren’t we hearing about any Pizza parlors doing this all over the country? And why still so many homeless people?

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