The musical technology student occasionally volunteered at a shelter in his Irvington, Indiana, neighborhood, east of Indy, called the Julian Center. The non-profit agency offered a safe refuge for folks dealing with violence, instead of love, handed out by those they trusted most. Despite his own shallow student pockets, Tomori’s imagination soared to the tune of a pizza dream for people hurting for some hope and a comforting meal.
The African immigrant, who sports a pizza tattoo and considers his favorite edible an “enduring symbol of love,” describes pizza as the quintessential comfort food. During a grad school internship creating a Pizza Hut ad campaign, Tomori fully grasped the worldwide explosion of pizza passion. “I noticed posts on Twitter like ‘I love you more than pizza.’ An ad for a domestic abuse shelter depicted a woman calling up a pizzeria and instead of ordering, she simply said, 'Send help!' I realized I needed to change my approach to life—and LOVE sounded like good place to start.”
But the Nigerian whiz kid and his volunteer band did much more than share pizza with their grateful shelter neighbors. “We made Valentine’s cards with the kids and helped out in the kitchen,” Tomori recalls during a phone conversation from his new home in Oakland, California. Since graduating and moving to Oakland, Tomori runs his own business, endearingly named PizzaLabs. The pizza-fueled entrepreneur develops interactive multi-media presentations for museums and schools. He works with his girlfriend, who he met back in Indy while recruiting volunteers for his “Valentine’s Day Miracle.” “I sent a pizza over to her after-hours school art program and then I invited her to join my team. It’s literally true that pizza brought us together,” he explains.