April 21, 2022
National CASA/GAL Book Club chats with “Maid” author Stephanie Land
SEATTLE, WA – On April 11, National CASA/GAL Association for Children hosted New York Times best-selling author Stephanie Land, in a thought-provoking virtual dialogue with hundreds of CASA/GAL state and local program staff and volunteers from across the country to discuss her memoir, “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive.”
The National CASA/GAL Book Club series is focused on poverty and provides insight to CASA/GAL staff and volunteers to reflect and engage in a facilitated dialogue on topics that directly impact the children and families they serve. Land, whose published college essays about poverty went viral, was offered a book deal 11 months later. Her book “Maid” inspired an original series currently on Netflix.
As the third installment of the Book Club discussions, Land shared her personal experiences as a single mother raising her daughter and cleaning houses, and difficulty applying for government assistance.
“In order to receive benefits, I had to work pretty much full-time at a minimum wage job. And then there are a lot of people out there doing that and government assistance programs are supplementing employers who are unwilling to pay a living wage. So, I think it’s ridiculous that we demand that people work 20 hours a week, to get what comes out to be a dollar a meal per person, per day. It’s demeaning,” said Land. “You go through a lot of means testing when you apply too. To go through all this to prove that you need this, and then receive maybe $200 a month in food, and then you’re forced to reapply for every specific program every few months. To me it was a feeling that I only had worth if I was working.”
When asked about transiency, Land said “I think there is a lot of housing insecurity we’re facing right now; it’s no longer a housing crisis, it’s an eviction crisis. And with the ways that our wages have not increased in the last 20 years, and our housing prices have almost tripled, it’s getting more and more impossible to have secure housing.”
Leading up to the event, Book Club members participated in independent reading and group discussions, culminating in this special opportunity to hear directly from the author. The final book in the Poverty Learning Series is “Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration” by Dr. Reuben J. Miller.