Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia has now given away more than 10,000 slices of pizza, using a unique “pay-it-forward” system where “customers can pre-purchase $1 slices for those in need.”
The story is inspiring on a number of levels, illuminating the power of business to channel the best of humanity toward meeting complex needs in new and unexpected ways, often quite spontaneously.
The owner, Mason Wartman, left his job on Wall Street to start the restaurant, following his vocational aspirations and bringing a new product and service to this Philadelphia neighborhood. This is a great social benefit in and of itself, and yet the owner and his customers went further, responding to other signals in their community through generosity and innovation from the bottom up. As several homeless people in the video explain, the grace-filled approach of the business and its customers made a remarkable impact, giving them peace, encouragement, and empowerment.
Businesses don’t have to assume these sorts of “extra” functions to glorify God and be effective servants for the common good. But in doing so, Rosa’s offers a small glimpse of the range of options and opportunities bound up in these enterprises. So often we attempt to solve problems like hunger, homelessness, and poverty from the top down, relying on coercive techniques or materialistic shifting, all when the more personal and powerful tools are there waiting to be either occupied or utilized.
Among the wide range of spheres for stewardship and service, business is a force for good that’s uniquely suited to leveraging our work and creative service toward meeting complex human needs. As we seek to assist and uplift the vulnerable, Rosa’s offers a good reminder that we not neglect or forget that potential.