Seattle company working to give inmates better future

By Alison Morrow

KING-TV

SEATTLE — For more than 50 years, a Seattle company has hired inmates who are looking for a better future.

Forever a Husky, Toalei Mulitauaopele wore his purple and gold to work on Bowl Game weekend. Once a defensive lineman for the Dawgs, he lost the chance to play professional football.

His self-esteem sacked, he quit school and almost quit life.

“Just, man, whatever it took to get high and stay high. I didn’t want to feel bad no more. I didn’t want to feel like a loser no more. I took whatever I needed to take,” he told KING-TV.

Drugs, robberies and eventually assault on police landed “T” in prison for years. Eventually, he sobered up and decided to grow up but no matter how many jobs he applied for, no one wanted to hire him.

“It’s not impossible but it’s tough. Once you’re labeled as a felon, a lot of people shut their door on you,” Mulitauaopele said.

It’s a story shared by many in Pioneer Human Services manufacturing plant in Seattle. The company gives former inmates a chance to create something more.

More than half of the employees have criminal histories, and many have struggled with substance abuse. Two Seattle plants produce more than 1.4 million airplane parts every year.

“Companies like this probably benefit more than other companies, because we’re willing to work that much harder to get our lives back,” said employee Lynette Malo.

Eight years later, Mulitauaopele has moved up from quality control to supervising half the plant. Every once in a while, he sees someone he knew on the streets.

“So, it’s kind of inspiring when they see me. Damn T, you did it. Yes. It’s possible. It’s doable. You got to work it,” he said.

Work it like he did, returning to college and earning his degree, reuniting with his daughter, and returning to football to coach.

“Without places like Pioneer, there’s no help. If there’s no help, there’s no hope,” Mulitauaopele said. “I want to be part of the solution now, instead of part of the problem.”

________

Distributed by The Associated Press.

More in News

Betsy Reed Schultz, head of the Captain Joseph Foundation, sits in the library of the Captain Joseph House in Port Angeles as the respite home for Gold Star families prepares for its first guests this weekend. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Captain Joseph House to welcome its first families

Respite center first in nation of its kind

Quilcene Bay is currently closed to shellfish harvesting

Beach the latest in Jefferson County to be closed due to PSP

Clallam County to hire addiction counselor for needle exchange

Move is part of pilot project to link clients with services

As flower-cutting season gives way to pumpkin selection, Kaya Mindlin of Port Townsend picks dahlias and statice at Wilderbee Farm just outside the city. Fall temperatures are expected to remain in the mid to upper 60s this week with an increasing chance of a few showers by the weekend. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/For Peninsula Daily News)
Fall scenery

As flower-cutting season gives way to pumpkin selection, Kaya Mindlin of Port… Continue reading

Jefferson County estuary to be restored

Duckabush gets grant of more than $19M

Jeffco commissioners approve new building lot regulations

Change could lead to more development in substandard lots

School outbreaks driving numbers in Jefferson County

Clallam County remains in moderate-risk category

Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsual News Group
Firefighters from Clallam County Fire District 3 respond to a house fire on the 200 block of North Dunlap Avenue.
Sequim house fire quelled

No injuries were reported in a fire at a Sequim… Continue reading

Most Read