In a sleepy suburb of Washington, D.C., a Muslim-run charity is thriving as it serves a diverse community and helps those in need.
In downtown Herndon, Virginia, a mother and two children are receiving help from this food pantry run by an organization called “FAITH,” short for “the Foundation for Appropriate and Immediate Temporary Help.”
About 800 to 1,000 people come to the food pantry for help every month.
FAITH was officially founded in 1999 and has grown to become a viable part of the Herndon community, supported by staff and volunteers. It says its programs are aimed at empowering people to get out of poverty.
"We have an intake process where we evaluate the situation of the client. And then from that evaluation and research, then we make our plan with the client: how are they going to change their situation? We are actually trying to help the client change their situation. We are not maintaining them in the same place. We want them to be proactive," said Amreen Ahmed, the director of FAITH.
Tanveer Mirza, one of the founders of FAITH, says the organization was founded on the principles of helping others regardless of their religious background.
"The thing is we are here, and everybody here is our neighbor and we live together, and that’s the teaching of Islam, to serve everyone who is in need and who is your neighbor. So that’s where we took our inspiration from," said Mirza.
Other than the food pantry, residents also visit the FAITH thrift store. Unique to this thrift store is the selection of garments from various cultures, donated by local residents. But there are also new items sold here, such as these in-line skates, donated by stores.
Maria, a thrift shop customer, explains what attacts her to the store.
"Clothes or something for the house, like for the kitchen, or some toys for the kids. And sometimes to send for my family in my country, in Mexico," she said.
With the support of volunteers, local officials and business owners, FAITH has been able to serve a constantly growing community.
This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Indonesian Service.