Alumnae/i Feature

Empowering Homelessness Solutions: The Journey of Chimene Agogo ’23MSW at St. Francis House

Chimene Agogo ’23MSW

Chimene Agogo is Program Manager of the Rapid Rehousing Program at St. Francis House, the largest day-shelter in Massachusetts for individuals experiencing homelessness. In this rewarding supervisory role, Agogo leads a team of case managers to secure housing for clients who have been unhoused for one month or more. She collaborates with landlords, property managers, and real estate agents to identify housing options and to offer assistance with rent and living costs for a year. “In that time,” she says, “our clients can stabilize and gain employment without worrying about rent.” Agogo and her staff also refer clients to other comprehensive support services such as mental health counseling, financial literacy, and employment assistance. “I consider us one stop,” says Chimene of the Boston-based shelter. “Everything our clients need is one desk or an elevator ride away.”

On Choosing Simmons

After graduating from UMass Boston in 2019 with degrees in Social Psychology and Criminology/Criminal Justice, Agogo held positions in health advocacy and family support. She chose Simmons’ School of Social Work for its highly regarded clinical curriculum and specialized Social Work + Trauma Practice Certificate. “I wanted to understand how trauma can affect the brain and individuals’ lives,” Agogo says. The convenience of the course schedule, she notes, also was appealing, as she planned to continue to work during the program.

How Simmons Prepared Her

Agogo describes the learning atmosphere as “open-minded and nonjudgmental,” with faculty weaving real-world clinical examples into coursework and class discussions. This dynamic was especially beneficial in her Practice courses, in which she learned from the same professors and classmates for an entire year. “We were able to build relationships as well as receive feedback and support,” she says, adding that she also formed strong and lasting bonds with students in her trauma certificate courses.

In her first placement, Agogo interned at FamilyAid Boston, a community-based shelter focused on solving family homelessness. She served as a case manager assisting and advocating for families in crisis situations, as well as others with housing vouchers. Her second internship at Bowdoin Street Health Center offered experience in a primary-care setting. As a member of the Integrated Behavioral Health Team, Agogo provided brief interventions, resources, and referrals to individuals facing behavioral health issues. “I was able to connect the trauma I saw in the field to concepts from my courses,” she reports. In addition, Agogo developed strong leadership skills as president of the Simmons chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers.

Why the Work is Meaningful

“While we’re securing housing,” says Agogo, “I really enjoy seeing our clients work with our case managers to complete vital documents or find a training program or job.” She and her staff are currently helping undocumented clients to secure work permits and Social Security numbers through referrals to external organizations. “We do not turn anyone away and we house everyone,” she says. The biggest reward, she observes, comes “when a client is placed in a unit and can finally lay their head down in a bed in a warm place.”

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