Winnipeg's Sunshine House takes top prize at Fast Pitch competition for non-profits

Winnipeg's Sunshine House takes top prize at Fast Pitch competition for non-profits

After a gruelling 10 weeks of competition, Winnipeg's Sunshine House was announced as the winner of Fast Pitch, a Dragons' Den-like competition for non-profits.

"That was such an incredible moment really.  It was so exciting of course to be chosen and also such an honour because all of the participants had done such an amazing job that evening," said Chelsea Jalloh, co-chair on the board of directors at Sunshine House.

Fast Pitch is run by the Winnipeg Foundation to help coach the city's charitable sector. Participants work with mentors to create high-energy cases for support, delivered in less than three minutes.

The winner walks away with $10,000 for their charity.

"It means so much to Sunshine House," Jalloh said on CBC's Weekend Morning on Sunday.

"For Sunshine House, we don't have core funding. We are always looking for grants and ways to keep our doors open and our participants supported. So $10,000 is absolutely incredible for us and makes a huge difference in what we can do."

Sunshine House's diverse programming includes helping people who are homeless, helping those exploring gender and sexual identity and providing food security.

"So we really try to respond to what the community indicates they need support with and then create programs to address those," Jalloh said.  "Lots of diverse programs but that's the unifying thread."

The competition-winning pitch was for Sunshine House to convert an old garage into a greenhouse.

"We would like to use the produce we grow to supplement the nutritional value to the meals we serve our participants and also sell the produce to local restaurants so we can reinvest the profits and make the program sustainable," Jalloh said.

While all of the charities involved made great pitches, Jalloh said they have taken the top prize because the judges recognized their organization helps people who are often under-served or marginalized.

"They may have really resonated with the Chuck Norris joke which is how I closed the pitch," she said with a laugh. "When Chuck Norris cuts onions, the onions cry."