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From a thank you card to a thriving business

How one woman turned her life around with creativity, confidence and an unwavering support system – thanks to FreeFrom.

employees of GIFTED  standing in front of shelves with boxes.

Ana Zimmermann (far right) is director of GIFTED by FreeFrom, a survivor-run online shop that builds their wealth and grows their businesses.

November 28th, 2023

Ana Zimmermann had $10 in her pocket when she left her abusive partner.

She'd gotten into a relationship a couple of years after moving to Los Angeles from her native El Salvador in 2009, and she knew few people there.

She had no credit, no driver's license and no place to call home. For two years, she lived in a shelter with her two children. Although she got government assistance, it was still hard to feed her family.

It seemed like she was never going to become financially independent. But that's all changed.

GIFTED the chance to start over


Today, Zimmermann is director of GIFTED by FreeFrom, which is a social enterprise by FreeFrom, an LA-based nonprofit. FreeFrom helps survivors of relationship abuse achieve long-term financial stability. The Allstate Foundation supports FreeFrom's efforts as part of its relationship abuse program, which aims to disrupt the cycle and reduce the prevalence of domestic violence.

GIFTED by FreeFrom sells personal care and other products exclusively from survivor-owned small businesses while employing survivors at a living wage.

"The No. 1 obstacle to safety for survivors is financial security," said Sonya Passi, FreeFrom founder and CEO. "That's why we are building an ecosystem of support to ensure that survivors have the resources to get safe, heal, and prevent future harm."

The most-needed resource for stability? Cash.

In 2023, The Allstate Foundation awarded FreeFrom a $250,000 unrestricted grant to help them provide resources for survivors' safety.


"FreeFrom meets survivors where they are with what they need most – cash assistance – in a way unlike any other domestic violence organization I've seen," said Sharisse Kimbro, program officer for the Foundation. "They place unrestricted funds directly in the hands of survivors across the country."

The fact that the products support self-care and wellness makes them even more special. The Allstate Foundation recently surprised 600 domestic violence advocates with GIFTED by FreeFrom products alongside handwritten notes from Allstate employees to remind those who give so much to others to remember to give to themselves.

A new life was in the cards

It started while Zimmermann was still at the shelter when she was asked to write thank you notes to donors. She embellished the cards with her own designs and eventually started selling them. When FreeFrom visited the shelter in 2017 to recruit survivors for its new entrepreneurship program, Zimmermann was chosen.

Then, when FreeFrom started GIFTED, she became its first employee.

"FreeFrom has completely transformed my life and the lives of my kids," she said. "Having FreeFrom believe in me and support me gave me the confidence I needed to move forward with my business."

Now, she has an apartment, a car, savings, and a sense of peace. And her card business keeps growing – from 120 to more than 6,000 sold last year.

"It feels so rewarding that people are buying them," Zimmermann said. "Being financially secure is so important for survivors, and now I am. I am grateful to FreeFrom for that."

So she's paying it forward. She's hired survivors from the shelter to work at GIFTED by FreeFrom — helping them on their path to financial security.

Give the gift of financial stability

Join The Allstate Foundation and FreeFrom's mission to create a community of support for domestic abuse survivors. Shop GIFTED by FreeFrom this season to give the gift of supporting financial freedom.

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