"You don't think there are people in need, but there are a lot of them," says Mirza, the organization's president. "You don't see them."
Mirza says her group emphasizes self-sufficiency, but finds people who are struggling frequently can't get there without a hand. Government plays a critical role. She and other FAITH administrators decry recent cuts in food stamp benefits and long-term unemployment assistance.
She recalls the struggles of families the group has helped: The two girls they assisted with college tuition after their father died. The Iraqi refugee family who relied on temporary housing and pharmacy training before eventually finding work.
The U.S. "is not a place where people can pick gold leaves off of the tree," she says. "In the long run, America is going to be the one which benefits from spending. It's like an investment — in people."
Back on the road, subdivisions and corporate headquarters give way to more open spaces. Inside the wood-paneled dining room at the Stonewall Golf Club, friends Diane Wagner, Shari Viellieu and Francie Meade share a lunch table overlooking greens that curl around Lake Manassas. But they have differing views of the economic landscape.
"I believe the minimum wage should be raised, I can you tell you that," says Wagner, a retired corporate office manager. Too many people are struggling to get by, working in fast-food restaurants or others place for wages that can't possibly support families, she says. She notes that just as she's counting on Social Security and Medicare, it's reasonable for others less fortunate to look to the government for help. "I'm willing to pay more taxes if I have to," she says.
But Meade, an interior designer, has her doubts. "I lean toward less government involvement," she says. "I think a lot of things have been fixed. I think with education, people do have a possibility of upward mobility."