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2015 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Fresh Start Surgical Gifts

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Health, Surgical Specialties

Mission:

Fresh Start Surgical Gifts transforms the lives of disadvantaged children and young people with physical deformities caused by birth defects, accidents, abuse, or disease through the gift of reconstructive surgery and related health care services. Our vision is to build a community of volunteers committed to seeing that every child with a physical deformity is given the opportunity to have a positive self-image, thereby enriching the lives of both the receiver and giver.

Results: Since our inception in 1991 Fresh Start Surgical Gifts has provided over $30,000,000 worth of donated medical care to over 7,000 children.

Target demographics: children and teens suffering from physical deformities

Direct beneficiaries per year: 408 children and teens were served through 1,175 treatments

Geographic areas served: United States and International

Programs: Surgery Weekends provide free reconstructive plastic surgery and related medical services to disadvantaged children and young people with physical deformities. Fresh Start hosts six to seven Surgery Weekends a year where some of the most knowledgeable experts in reconstructive surgery donate their time to transform the lives of over 500 children with deformities. Services are provided at the Fresh Start Clinic at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego to children from the US and internationally by an all-volunteer team of surgeons and medical professionals. Some of the conditions treated include: Microtia, Hemangioma, Neurofibromatosis, Hairy Nevus, Cleft lip and Cleft palate, Treacher Collins Syndrome, Portwine Stains, and Hemifacial Microsomia. In our continued effort to offer holistic care to every child we serve, our Surgery Weekends also include a Laser Clinic and speech therapy.

Community Stories

39 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Fresh Start is an outstanding charity. One hundred percent of the donations it receives are used to improve the lives of the children it serves. There are very few charities in the world that can make that claim. When my wife and I donate to a worthy cause, it is important to us that our donation be used in an appropriate manner rather than consumed in administrative costs. With Fresh Start, we know that our wishes in that regard are always fulfilled.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered time on Surgery Saturday's and really enjoyed seeing all of the Doctors, Nurses, Dentists, and other experts give their time to such a wonderful cause. One particular patient that came from Russia was such an inspiration. She had undergone so many surgeries over the years and had such a great attitude. I would drive home wondering how such a young person could go through so much and deal with all of the issues she had faced and always be so happy. It puts a lot into perspective for those of us that don't face the same type of challenges. Volunteering for Fresh Start helps so many children and families, and truthfully, it helps the volunteers just as much! You can't work with Fresh Start and not gain an appreciation for the work that they do and all that you are blessed with.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Fresh Start is dear to my heart. I have volunteered as an RN over the years. I have watched some of the children grow up and find their sparkle after reconstructive surgery. Each volunteer gives their heart and energy for the children and young adults. I have met many fine kindhearted professional and lay persons giving their time to Fresh Start. As volunteers we are treated beautifully on the surgery weekends. My only wish is that I could give more time to this organization.
Our patients are the most grateful, brave special kids and adults!!!!

Review from Guidestar

Donor

Rating: 5

Fresh Start is one of the most amazing organizations in this field. From a donor point of view this is a dream come true. all financials are made available for public inspection and all questions are answered promptly. The attention and care the kids and families recieve is second to none. I have been involve and exposed to many children's health care charities and I highly recommend Fresh Start Surgical Gifts both as a resource for kids in need and for potential donors looking to make a meaningful investment in a child's future.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have only volunteered several times but I can say that it has been an absolute pleasure to help others aside Fresh Start employees and volunteers.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at Fresh Start for about 5 years and will continue to volunteer for as long as I can. The staff is wonderful, everyone makes you feel like your part of the Fresh Start family. I have gained more from Fresh Start then I think I have given. It is a trully rewarding experience.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Volunteering for FRESH START has given me the Gift of love. Over the past two years I have seen mothers weep, families elated with joy, over the transformation in their childs life. To be a volunteer makes my life richer.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I’ve worked with Fresh Start and attended their events for over seven years. They are a group of dedicated and passionate doctors, nurses and volunteers.

The surgical gifts Fresh Start provides allow children with facial deformities a chance at a normal and productive life. One where they can leave the places they hide and enter the public without the humiliating stares and stigmatizing that often come with their deformities. Many of their patients come from cultures that are deeply intolerant. Fresh start gives them dignity and hope that would otherwise be difficult at best.

You would be proud of the work that they would do with any contribution you made.

Grant Ghow

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer recovery room RN with Fresh Start for 7 years and have watched this organization grow and expand its mission to assist children with physical deformities get the surgeries they need to transform their lives , even assisting with the expense of travel and accommodation.The staff are truly dedicated to meet the needs of both the children and their families, going the extra mile when something unexpected occurs. Mimi, the volunteer coordinator does an outstanding job ensuring all positions are covered with a very positive supportive manner.Fresh Start is an organization that watches its bottom line so the dollars go where they are needed most and is worthy of financial support

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a working actor in Hollywood, I have the privilege of playing in a lot of Celebrity Golf Tournaments that support a number of charities. I first was invited by Fresh Start to participate in their annual event a few years ago. Never have I met an organization that is so selfless in their pursuit of an individual cause. From the surgeons that donate their time for surgical procedures and counseling, to all the staff and volunteers that help so many children through their Foundation. Children born with physical deformities have a tougher time growing up, being accepted and leading normal, healthy lives. I am proud to be a supporter of Fresh Start and the humanitarian work they do for our children.

Jeff Rector

Review from Guidestar

Donor

Rating: 5

I work for a hotel company that has assisted Fresh Start Surgical Gifts with lodging for their families coming for Surgery Weekends since the end of 2008. In addition I have attended a couple of their fundraising events and have loved meeting their volunteers and their staff. Lupita and Mimi are truly dedicated to the Fresh Start mission and continually show that through their energy and positive outlook. Fresh Start makes a difference in children's lives that far surpasses any tangible measurement.

Review from Guidestar

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began volunteering with Fresh Start after my daughter took an internship with the organization. I have enjoyed every event and project and feel deeply moved by the mission and services they provide to children with physical deformities. As an elementary school teacher I see first hand how dramatically a child's life can be transformed when the right help is provided. Fresh Start transforms the entire child, inside and out, and allows them the opportunity to grow into healthy, happy and productive members of society. Great work!!

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Fresh Start came into my life through one of my close friends that began interning at the non profit. She asked me to volunteer at one of her events which was a Celebrity Golf tournament and dinner. Everything was well organized, the turnout was great, the people I met were pleasant to work with and they raised a lot of money for children with physical deformities to get free surgeries. It was then that I really realized what Fresh Start really did. My brother was born with a cleft lip and palate and went through several surgeries as a child and well into his teens. I have witnessed firsthand how much a surgery like that can make a difference in someone's life and how important this organization is to the children that receive these surgical gifts. After that, I volunteered at their grand opening of a surgery center at Rady's Childrens Hospital and was able to meet some of the doctors that volunteered their time along with some of the top supporters of the company... another great experience. They take great care of their volunteers and even have an annual volunteer appreciation dinner. Knowing this, you can just imagine how great they take care of their patients and what a giving company this is. Since, I've attended several other Fresh Start events along with volunteering at the Golf event for the second time in which they surpassed their goal in contributions. I will continue to volunteer and intend to even join the Event Committee so I can help to make even more of a difference and so that Fresh Start can make a difference in me.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The reason I got started volunteering at Fresh Start Surgical Gifts was because of a school project. One of my College classes required us to do some volunteer time with an organization that they had contact with. At the beginning of the year we were given a big long list of places to choose from. I recognized one of the contact names on the list from the little league I used to work at. She ran the snack bar and just happend to be the volunteer coordinator for Fresh Start. I started working a couple weeks later in their offices, just helping out with mailings and file organization type stuff, which I have to admit was not that exciting. It wasn't until my first Surgery Weekend with the them that I got to see first hand why this organization is so special. I hand the rare oppurtunity, as a first time volunteer, to actually work in the OR. Even though my job was not glamorous in any way (I cleaned and sanitized the ORs after surgery) it meant I got to see the patients before and after their operations. I got to see the differences in each persons appearence from when they went in to when they came out and to know that everyone around me was doing this out of their own time was a great feeling.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I discovered Fresh Start Surgical Gifts over a year ago when a lifelong friend of mine began working for this nonprofit organization. I was so impressed with their cause to provide free reconstructive surgery to disadvantaged children and wanted to be a part of this great gift that would alter a child's life forever. I began my volunteer experience by helping at a fundraising event at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego. I was able to meet many of the doctors that volunteer their services and the wonderful Fresh Start staff. It was great meeting all these influential people and hearing their experiences. At this event, a video was shown that told the stories of many children and families that have been personally effected by Fresh Start Surgical Gifts. Even though I knew of thier mission prior to watching this video, it was such an amazing and touching moment to see the pure joy and happiness in each person on the screen. If this organization did not exist, so many children on a national and international level would not be able to live the fulfilling lives that they deserve. Since Rady Children's Hospital, I have helped participate at the Butterfly Ball and the annual golf tournament/fundraiser. I will continue to volunteer to show my gratitude for what they are doing in our community and because I love being a part of something so amazing as to help change a child's life! Thank you Fresh Start Surgical Gifts for all you have done and what you will continue to do in the future!

9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered at a number of organizations over the years and I can honestly say that my experience with Fresh Start Surgical Gifts has been, by far, the most gratifying. As a translator, I have the privilege of working directly with the families and getting to see the children as they undergo life altering transformations. The nurses and doctors that volunteer their time treat the families with kindess and respect. The Fresh Start staff is kind, professional and caring beyond belief. I walk away from every surgery weekend feeling thankful and proud to be a part of Fresh Start.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Fresh Start is the first non-profit I have volunteered for and it has inspired me to continue volunteering for great causes. The staff treats the volunteers very well and they always show how much they appreciate us being out there. I've had the opportunity to sit in on some of the presentations while helping with tech support and there is an overwhelming sense of community and togetherness with everyone involved in the organization.

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began volunteering with Fresh Start Surgical approximately 3 years ago and have volunteered in various capacities when time permits. The most overwhelming sense of gratification and joy for me has been derived from the patients' stories of the surgeries that were performed on them and to see the photos and to actually hear some of the patients speak about their surgeries. These surgeries are more than surgeries for the patients; they are miracles, rendering the child presentable and whole with a brand new life ahead to look forward to. For them it has been a miracle; for myself, to witness the happiness in their faces and to know that the Fresh Start Surgical staff has changed their lives forever adds a dimension to my life that cannot be expressed in words. To be a part of that team in even the most minute way has enhanced my life, probably to the same degree, if not more, that it has the patients' lives. I appreciate this wonderful volunteer opportunity with Fresh Start Surgical, an outstanding, life-changing organization that works "miracles."