Mason Wartman embodies the American dream.
Born in Venezuela, he moved to the United States where he was raised in the great state of Pennsylvania. He later attended Babson College, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Management. It didn’t take long before he found himself working on Wall Street.
He left it all behind.
“I quit the best job I ever had. My exact job on Wall Street – supporting sell-side equity analysts as they produced research reports on stocks – was exactly what I wanted to do.”
An entrepreneur at heart, he left New York City to start up his own business, a pizza restaurant, back home in Philadelphia. In December 2013, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza was born, named in honor of his mother, with a second location recently opened in July 2017.
That success alone is worth some applause. After all, starting a new business is ripe with its own challenges. It was what his business did with that success that has inspired an entire community … and the country.
In May 2014, one of his customers asked to pay for a $1 slice of pizza in advance, to put it on reserve in case someone in need came looking for food. Wartman wrote this down on a Post-It, like a receipt, and placed it on the wall. The next person to come in who needed food could take the post-it down and use it to get a pre-paid slice.
Something magical took hold. More and more people started to pre-pay for slices, and homeless people in the community caught word. Where many businesses turn away the poor, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza welcomed them with open arms.
The pay it forward program started small, but after the restaurant was featured on the Ellen Show in January 2015, word spread far and wide. Now Rosa’s Fresh Pizza serves 50 to 100 people in need every day.
Wartman inspired a community. The pay it forward program is a show of humanity, nourishing not only the body but the soul. What is especially heart-warming are the stories of those who have benefited from the efforts. Many people who have enjoyed a pre-paid slice have come back to pay it forward themselves. These stories are featured on the Rosa’s Fresh Pizza website.
Wartman has developed a business model that maintains his revenues, keeps customers coming in, and helps those in need. It’s community service with sustainability.
Are there any ways that you can pay it forward in your own community? You do not need a vibrantly colored Post-It wall to make a difference. You just need some creativity and some heart. Every action, no matter how big or how small, counts. You too can change lives.