A photo of Bethany Tasaka and her parents.For Bethany Tasaka, volunteering is a family affair.

Tasaka is a mathematics instructor at San Bernardino Valley College, and along with her parents and siblings, she has been helping distribute groceries and hot meals to those in need for decades. The family does this through their church, Colton Vineyard, where Tasaka’s parents are pastors.

“My parents definitely raised us to give back to our community,” Tasaka said. “I live in Colton and I just want my neighborhood to be a better place.”

As a child, Tasaka and her fellow church members would walk to Cesar Chavez Park to distribute homemade meals, like spaghetti. Later in the 1990s, they began serving food from their church, and about 15 years ago, started passing out boxes of groceries from Feeding America.

“When we hand out groceries community members tell us how much of a difference a couple bags of food makes to them,” Tasaka said. “Some community members have been getting food with us for decades. I feel like it’s a small action on our part, but it makes a difference for them.”

Tasaka’s mother regularly picks up hundreds of pounds of food every month to distribute from the church, and Tasaka and a handful of volunteers rotate to help her. For anyone who wants to participate in a similar volunteer effort, Tasaka has some advice.

“Look for an easy way to start,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Help someone in your neighborhood. Take a friend with you to volunteer. I think once you take that first step it’s easier to continue.”

The Tasaka family has deep ties to SBVC — her parents met at the college in an oceanography class, with both earning their associate’s degrees in the 1970s, and one of her sisters is also a graduate and tutor on campus. Tasaka has been a math instructor since 2017, and said she is “really happy I was hired here. It feels like home. I love that SBVC is part of my neighborhood and my family’s story. I feel like I’m giving back to my community every time I come to work.”