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  • Aline Yamashita

Selfless and beyond

She’s a giant in size 6. The work that she and her unit did was selfless and smart.

When Families First! was in office, we often connected. Her cases caused tears to squelch the simmering, scalding disappointment in adults who acted anything but.

As the leader of the Bureau of Social Services, Lydia Tenorio oversaw a team of social workers who breathed deeply as they responded to cries for help.

I remember a child left in a drawer while everyone walked around her for years – as if she was invisible. I remember the sorrow of siblings in Pigo — as their parent changed from DOC orange into matai garb – as the abused victim was buried. I remember the internet ad where babies were being sold on Guam – human trafficking at its earliest.

Annual reports continue to show reporting of abuse and neglect near 3,000 of our children. Continuously, physical neglect, physical abuse, and emotional abuse are the highest maltreatment categories.


Continuously, drug abuse and family violence are the highest child risk factors.

Children are damaged for being children. The cycle of abuse remains. Yet, we have persevering professionals who believe in the inherent goodness of people. These folks are social workers who dedicate their time and energy to helping people become acceptable human beings.

Social workers address one case at a time, even as their hearts break.

Lydia and her team served for over 30 years. Their performance was so incredibly stellar that she was presented with the 2012 U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Commissioner’s Award for Leadership in the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

That’s some hot donne’. My pride and love soared to eternity and beyond

They composed the Intake and Crisis Unit, the Investigation Unit, and the Case Management Unit. They worked 24-7. As well, they helped develop policy, sat on countless boards, and delivered community partnerships – where foster families grew, hearts healed, justice had standing, mental health mattered, diversity was embraced – in amazing, loving, spectacular ways.

So, when the news broke that CPS referrals were stockpiled, their world – as retirees – paused. They were sad, angry, upset, shocked, concerned about the current staff, worried about the welfare of the children and families.

And they wanted to help.


There’s Joe Diaz, social services supervisor II retiree. There’s Susan Dugan, social worker III retiree. There’s Sandra Quinata, social worker III retiree. There’s Lydia Jesus, social worker III retiree. There’s Barbara Guerrero, social services supervisor I retiree. And Lydia Tenorio, human services administrator retiree.

There are others on standby to help.

It is excellent that DYA Director Brennan and DPHSS Director San Agustin welcome their helping hands fortified by experience that is culturally competent. While none want to un-retire, they continue to volunteer countless hours to helping our families.

So, how did we get to this point? Human service work is always a challenge. There must be a continuous invigorated plan for recruitment and retention. I think CPS was doing well for decades, and when leadership shifts occurred, the needed attention was not given.

There’s no doubt that Lt. Gov. Tenorio will ensure that our children are a priority – which means their support systems are, too.


When Families First! was in office, we discussed the development of a children’s bureau, an agency of its own, where all policies, programs and practices emanate. We have an Early Childhood Learning Council that could serve as a policy board for the bureau. The focus would be to ensure that the needs of all children and their families are a top priority – always visible, always vocal, always victorious for our growing children.

This would be a huge economic development step.

Today, we give a standing ovation to Joe, Susan, Sandra, Lydia, Barbara, and Lydia. Thank you for going beyond – again and again. Retirees rock!

As you save Guam one child at a time, you’re all giants of goodness. God is nodding.

Aline Yamashita is a mom, a teacher and former senator. She served in the 31st and 32 Guam Legislatures. You may write to her at

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