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Bonnie Goldberg and Adam Abramson have helped raise $60,000 for the Childhood Arrivals and Support and Advocacy program, a charity that helps children who were brought to Canada as babies but fall through the cracks of the immigration and social services network.Tijana Martin/The Globe and Mail

The organizers: Bonnie Goldberg and Adam Abramson

The pitch: Creating Friends of CASA

Bonnie Goldberg has a long history of supporting various charities but last year she came across a cause that touched her deeply.

She’d read a newspaper story about the difficulties experienced by people who were brought to Canada as children and fell through the cracks of the immigration system. In the United States these people are known as Dreamers and they have a defined pathway to residency. That doesn’t exist in Canada and these children often live on the margins of society, cut off from most educational and work opportunities. They can apply for permanent residency but most don’t because the process is costly and could lead to deportation.

“The article stopped me in my tracks,” Ms. Goldberg said from her home in Toronto. “This was an issue I never knew existed in Ontario.”

Ms. Goldberg found out about a organization called the Childhood Arrivals and Support and Advocacy program, which was created last year to provide legal support to undocumented young people. She contacted the director, Sarah Pole, and told her, “I want to help you. I want to do what needs doing.”

That led Ms. Goldberg and her husband, Adam Abramson, to create Friends of CASA, which has raised $60,000 so far. The money supports the agency’s work and helped establish a fund to assist CASA’s clients in covering the cost of applying for permanent residency, which can be as high as $1,500. The group is also raising money to provide shelter and support to one client while she goes through the immigration process. So far five CASA clients have obtained permanent residency and nine others have applied.

Ms. Goldberg, 52, and Mr. Abramson, 53, hope to raise more money to support as many CASA clients as possible. They’ve also been overwhelmed at the response from people offering to help. “Our success has exceeded my expectations,” Ms. Goldberg said. “But I am not at all surprised because the story hit me so hard, and I’m not surprised that the people to whom I have reached out to have been equally moved by the CASA clients.”

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