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Spotlight | Lupita Morales – Medical Program Services Manager at Fresh Start Surgical Gifts

Spotlight | Lupita Morales – Medical Program Services Manager at Fresh Start Surgical Gifts

Lupita Morales is the Medical Program Services Manager at Fresh Start Surgical Gifts, a nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of disadvantaged infants, children and teens with physical deformities through the gift of free reconstructive surgery and other healthcare services. Established in 1991, Fresh Start was founded by the late Dr. Dennis Nigro and has provided free-of-cost medical care valued at over $33 million for more than 7,000 children since inception. Recently, Fresh Start announced its expansion to the Inland Empire to serve families in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

Lupita joined Fresh Start in 2007 as a Medical Administrative Assistant. Today, as Medical Program Services Manager, she is responsible for overseeing all patient services logistics, including: new patient application screening, arranging patient transportation, patient housing, patient visa facilitation and immigration arrangements. She also develops and maintains up-to-date immigration statuses for foreign patients to travel to the U.S. to receive proper care through Fresh Start. 

“I continued to work with Fresh Start over the years because I love the mission and what we do for the kids, “said Morales. “I love to see the process of how we change the lives of children and their families; Fresh Start gives them hope.”

Lupita oversees the recruitment, orientation, training, supervision, marketing and evaluation for over 400 Fresh Start volunteers. She plans and manages all Surgery Weekend logistics, which occurs every six weeks at the Fresh Start Clinic at Rady Children’s Hospital. During a Surgery Weekend, world-renowned surgeons donate their time and talents to transform the lives of over 400 children with deformities annually. Last year, Fresh Start’s Surgery Weekend Program provided 1,473 medical treatments to 397 patients.

Fueled by her drive to help underserved families including those that are uninsured or underinsured, Lupita attends patient outreach events and conferences, and engages in lead prospective patient outreach through community presentations, health fairs and conferences. Lupita also works hand-in-hand with the Chief Development Officer to seek new relationships with donors and vendors.

“Many kids start out shy with little to no self-esteem, and over the past 12 years I’ve seen our patients grow into confident teenagers and young adults pursuing their dreams,” said Morales. “Their self-esteem really blossoms, and families come together in support to celebrate their child’s fresh start in life.”

Lupita’s impact on the children Fresh Start serves is evident during Surgery Weekend, as their faces light up with arms outstretched as an expression of genuine gratitude. Lupita and her team play a critical role in any given Surgery Weekend. Anywhere from 40 to 80 patients will be seen for surgery or post-operative care at the Fresh Start Clinic, with 80 to 100 medical volunteers, including: surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, ophthalmologists and other community members working together to transform lives.

If making a difference was her goal, Lupita can check that one off her list. “At the end of the day, I know why I’m here,” said Morales. “I do it for the kids; that’s my mission.”

For more information on Fresh Start, visit or contact Lupita at or 760-448-2025. Currently, there is no waitlist to sign up for Fresh Start’s Medical Program for local residents of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.