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Celebrity comedian Ellen DeGeneres has undoubtedly become one of the most well-known and respected individuals in Hollywood, due in large part to the success of her talk show ‘The Ellen DeGeneras Show.’ On her show, Ellen has built the reputation for luring in the most prominent special guests, for pulling some of the funniest pranks and for giving away some of the best giveaways -especially around the Christmas season.

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However, Ellen is also known for using her show -and the average 3.9 million viewers that it pulls in daily -to also build awareness and help out special causes and individuals that are brought to her attention. This was the case for Mason Wartman, the owner of Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, a small pizzeria located in the heart of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

As a former worker on Wall Street, Mason stepped away from the world of finance to become the owner of a pizza shop that offers delicious pizza slices at the very low price of $1.00. At that price, Mason’s shop quickly became an affordable food option for the city’s homeless, something that Mason was more than happy to accommodate. Already providing a great option for those in need, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza took its service to the community to the next level after the offer of one particular customer. Check it out:

Pay It Forward

The concept behind ‘paying it forward’ is certainly not new, however, a public restaurant that openly accepts and encourages it certainly is. Hopefully through the exposure that Rosa’s Fresh Pizza receives through this segment, other businesses will find themselves inspired to also create a simple system to help the less fortunate in their community.

As individuals we can always do our part, whether the establishment we are eating at has a sanctioned system in place or not. An easy way to do this is to add something to your order. Once you finish eating, simply give the additional food to a homeless person. The amount you spend is completely within your control and it guarantees you that the assistance you are providing them is going towards nourishment.

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The next level up, which is something that a late friend of mine was famous for, is to ask a homeless individual what they would like to eat or drink (within reason of course) from the restaurant you are planning to go into. This gives them the option to choose what they get to eat, a luxury many of them may be long removed from experiencing and will surely appreciate.

The Importance Of Equal Treatment

In October of last year, we as a team packed up some lunches and hit the streets of Downtown Toronto to feed the less fortunate. In addition to handing out the food, we also took the time to communicate with many of them and were surprised to hear them all present one core issue -which happens to fall inline with one presented by Mason on Ellen:

As difficult as it is to come across food and shelter, nothing is more challenging than the lack of respect and genuine communication that we as a society give to the less fortunate.

Think about it. We walk past them often doing everything we can to avoid eye contact. When we help them we often do it as quickly and passively as possible out of fear. And we choose to judge and make assumptions about them, rather than ever take the time to actually get to know who they are.

Rosa’s Fresh Pizza helps to shatter this behaviour by offering a neutral space where everyone can receive the food and service they deserve -regardless of their financial situation. This to me is truly inspiring and I hope that it inspires many other companies to follow suit in offering this new standard in equitable service.

To see more from when we fed the homeless in Downtown Toronto click HERE.


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