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Sione Tuihalamaka keeps UCUCC safe for homeless teens

While staff at University Congregational UCC in Seattle is working from home, Sione Tuihalamaka, who was recently promoted from lead custodian to facilities manager at the church.

Sione Tuihalamaka is UCUCC’s lead custodian.
Photo courtesy of Sione Tuihalamaka

He is managing the facility, not only keeping the basic building systems operating but also keeping it clean and safe, because the basement is being used by homeless youth for a daytime drop-in center and take out meals.

Before COVID-19 and the stay at home orders, he began a course with the International Facilities Management Association. He recently earned a certificate in facilities management.

“He takes initiative in his care of the church,” said Wendy Blight of UCUCC.

Sione was born in Tonga, raised in Australia and returned to Tonga for studies in 1989. He spent many years playing rugby internationally, living 10 years in England, where he completed studies in sports and science in 2004, with the goal of being a rugby coach.

He returned to Tonga, where he met his wife, who is from Seattle. They married in 2005 and have three children. He ended his career in rugby in 2006 and began working various jobs in Seattle, in maintenance, utilities and custodial work, which he has now done for nearly 20 years.

Sione began working at University Congregational UCC in 2018. He is now responsible for coordinating the custodial staff, making sure they are safe and have PPE..

The University District Youth Center has a day center operating seven days a week, serving 25 to 30 teens from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. The related Teen Feed program operates six days a week, offering a take-out evening meal.

“It’s a blessing to reach out and help the teens by making sure the building operates and is clean,” said Sione. “God has prepared me for this journey and I’m grateful to do it.”

While his mother-in-law is pastor of a local Tongan Methodist Church, he also has attended UCUCC.

For information, call 206-524-2322 or email


Pacific NW Conference United Church News - Copyright © Summer 2020


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