Fresh Start’s founder, the late Dr. Dennis Nigro, a renowned San Diego plastic surgeon, began transforming the lives of youth with deformities in his own office on a pro bono basis in the late 1980’s. Through his travels and experiences as a new surgeon, Dr. Nigro developed a passion for treating craniofacial deformities and performing plastic surgery for kids for those who had no means to pay for the surgery themselves. He recognized that there was a whole population of people, especially children, who suffered from a correctable condition but could not afford the medical attention they needed.
By 1991, his personal philanthropic efforts and vision had caught on, resulting in the birth of Fresh Start Surgical Gifts. Since Fresh Start’s inception, over 5,600 children have received their transformations valued at over $21,000,000. Fresh Start has grown from a handful of volunteers to over 500. Now, hundreds of community volunteers band together for Surgery Weekends, like-minded in their desire to change the lives of children throughout the world. Read more about Dr. Nigro and his passion for Fresh Start Surgical Gifts...
On an organizational level, Fresh Start has excelled. In 1992, Fresh Start was recognized as a “Point of Light” by President Bush and President Clinton personally presented Fresh Start with the Volunteer Action Award in 1993. In 2009, Fresh Start opened the Fresh Start Clinic at Rady Children’s Hospital and in that same year was also a San Diego Business Journal (SDBJ) Healthcare Champions honoree. In 2010 our Medical Director, Celene Nigro, and volunteer surgeon, Dr. Amanda Gosman, were also named Healthcare Champions by SDBJ. Most recently, Fresh Start was named Best Local Nonprofit of 2011 by Ranch and Coast Magazine, was nominated for a Classy Award for Best Charity of the Year, and was Healthcare Champion of 2011 by SDBJ.
Fresh Start also maintains a record of financial stability and accountability. In 2008, Fresh Start was the only nonprofit to receive the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Excellence in Marketplace Ethics and Fresh Start also meets the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability, as decided by the BBB, which includes that we spend at least 65% of total expenses on program activities, that no more than 35% of related contributions are spent on fundraising, and that we accurately report the charity’s expenses in our financial statements.