Meet Maria Fiallo, StreetWise’s new Client Services Coordinator

She’s new to the StreetWise team as an employee, but Maria Fiallo – StreetWise’s Client Services Coordinator – is no stranger anymore. Starting as a volunteer in September of 2023, Maria has gotten to experience the culture and fun before accepting the job. 

And as she said, “They got to experience me before hiring me!

“I’d worked for a company for 12 years, and in May of last year, I was laid off,” Maria said. “After talking with my husband, I decided to take two months off over the summer to put a resume together because I hadn’t looked for a job in nearly 30 years. 

“I was looking on VolunteerMatch for somewhere to volunteer to keep busy, and I started volunteering with StreetWise in September of 2023. After telling people there my story, they let me know about the job opportunity, and my official first day was March 4.

“For months leading up to the call where I was laid off, I’d perceived a change was coming and that a door was closing. The day after the call as I was cleaning my office, I found a Chinese fortune cookie ‘fortune’ under my keyboard. It read ‘When one door closes, another opens’. I knew that was a reminder from God and an affirmation that it was truly time to move on. I held onto that phrase for months, knowing everything was going to work out in the end and that like the Footprints in the Sand poem, God would carry me through. And here I am at StreetWise!”  

While Maria is just jumping into her role at StreetWise, she’s by no means idle.

“Right now, I’m spending a lot of time shadowing certain volunteers – those answering phones, checking in clients, doing food pickups, the client advisors… I’m asking a lot of questions, gathering information – and every time I talk to somebody, I find out something new,” she said. “I’m also taking what exists now, documenting it and helping revamp and streamline processes to work a little more smoothly.”

Outside of work, self-proclaimed workaholic Maria is the life (host) of the party and enjoys cooking for herself, friends and family. She’s been married to her husband David for nearly 32 years, has three adult children – Darius, Damaris, Dion – and two little dogs, Peanut and Powder.

Like many of the smiling faces that greet clients at StreetWise’s doors, Maria has been through her own challenges and come out on the other side grateful for the kindness others showed.

“David and I made the decision 17 or 18 years ago to move from Florida to metro Atlanta – it just wasn’t affordable for us anymore,” she said. “I’m thankful for both of our parents and my eldest sister who supported us, especially when our kids were little.

We weren’t just living from paycheck to paycheck, we were living behind. We had an opportunity to make ourselves right financially, and moving up here made a big difference.”

Volunteering at StreetWise gave Maria a firsthand look at the way life can be different for those in different circumstances. It also showed her the importance of the compassion and care StreetWise shows its clients.

“I volunteered at the Christmas Store, and what I saw there were families that felt comfortable – they could share that they had a need without feeling uneasy,” she said. “It’s hard to ask people for help because of your pride. But they were treated as true clients. 

“Even as they were walking out, volunteers were saying goodbye and thank you so much for coming. Clients felt the warmth and the care of everyone at StreetWise.”

What does she want people to know about StreetWise after her 6+ months of involvement?

Even though StreetWise says it’s faith-oriented – and it is – I don’t think most people would expect such a welcoming attitude,” Maria said. “From the staff to the volunteers, I don’t think most people understand that no matter what, they are very welcoming.”