Ellen DeGeneres may have defended herself and her television series against comments made by a pastor about the way she celebrates the gay life style this week, but Ellen also took the time to put the spotlight on a small Philadelphia pizza parlor that is trying to give back to the Center City community.
Rosa's Fresh Pizza opened its doors in December 2013. The owner, Mason Wartman, started his business after leaving the hustle and bustle of Wall Street behind. He moved back home to Philly because he wanted to open his own $1 a slice pizza business after seeing how well similar pizza restaurants were doing in Manhattan.
Ellen DeGeneres brought Mason to Los Angeles to speak on her show and share his story on Tuesday. During Mason's appearance on Ellen, he shared how he felt about his business and his community.
"It is really awesome that a little company I started could help so many people. We are just a little pizza shop that sells one thing really. It has been encouraging to see the improvement in the community. This job compared to Wall Street is a lot more work, but it is more fun. It is definitely more rewarding. I'm happier now."
According to a report from In Touch Weekly, a customer walked into Rosa's Fresh Pizza nine months ago and asked to buy a slice a pizza for a homeless person outside. Mason quickly agreed to help the customer with the gesture, and he put the customer's free slice offer on a post-it note and placed it on the wall behind the cash register.
After that, he went out to buy a stack of post-it notes. That started the practice of a homeless person coming in and taking a post-it note off the wall to exchange it for a slice of pizza.
Since then, customers have donated 8,500 pizza slices to the homeless. On average, Rosa's Fresh Pizza feeds 30 to 40 homeless people in the area per day. The homeless in Center City visit the location for their daily meal. For some, it may be their only meal of the day.
Wartman does not rush out his homeless patrons either. He treats them just like he would any other paying customer. They sit down and eat their slice of pizza with the other customers in the restaurant, and he watches how everyone interacts from his spot behind the counter.
This practice has gained so much popularity in the community that Wartman now keeps track of the free slices on his cash register. People still leave post-it notes, but now these messages contain words of encouragement for the homeless in the area and praise for the work Wartman is doing to help feed them. Mason is hoping that other businesses follow his example and start similar programs to feed the homeless.
Rosa's Fresh Pizza first earned more attention for the pay it forward gesture with the pizza slices when the local ABC News affiliate featured Mason Wartman and his restaurant on the news earlier this month. Wartman shared some of the messages he has received since he started feeding the homeless with his pizza slices. One homeless man wrote his note on the plate that once held his pizza slice.
One customer, John Rodriguez, shared his thoughts about what Wartman is doing in his community with the news affiliate.
"Sometimes you give them stuff and you don't know what they are going to do with it. But to come in here and know you can buy a slice for yourself and buy a slice for them, you know you are feeding somebody."Wartman will now be able to feed even more of the homeless in his community. During his appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, she presented him with a $10,000 check from Shutterfly. Ellen also gave him a sign to put in the window of his business that shows how she supports his business and what he is doing to help the less fortunate in Philadelphia. He placed the sign in his window as soon as it arrived.
However, it is not just residents of Philadelphia who are helping him feed the homeless with their donations. He is now receiving donations from people around the country, and people from countries outside the United States want to help chip in too. One man from Germany commented on the Rosa's Fresh Pizza Facebook on Saturday wanting to help Mason with his good deed.
Another person said they were sending Mason a check for $10 to feed 10 homeless people. They would send more, but that was all they could part with. Others just leave comments to commend Mason for what he is doing with his business.
Mason has extended his generosity to include t-shirts and sweatshirts. Customers can buy a t-shirt that will feed seven homeless people. If they buy a sweatshirt, a sweatshirt will be given to a homeless person. Mason shared a photo of one homeless man wearing one of his restaurant's sweatshirts on Instagram last month. Mason shared a bit about the practice on the post.
"So thankful for all of the support and people who come into Rosa's. Glen has been homeless for two years and he needs and appreciates the warmth and resources that this sweatshirt will provide."
Ellen DeGeneres has caused an outpouring of support for this man and his small pizza parlor. When she spoke about the comments the pastor made against her on her show this week, she revealed what her real mission is with her show.
"The only way I'm trying to influence people is to be more kind and compassionate with one another. That is the message that I'm sending out. I don't have an agenda. I'm not here to brainwash anyone."By featuring Rosa's Fresh Pizza on her show this week, she managed to show the world how one man's kindness to others is helping feed the hungry of Philadelphia.