“We Need to Start Hugging and Stop Shooting.”

BGE’s Val Jenkins’ Hug Don’t Shoot non-profit is now dealing hugs across the country.

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Community Crew Diversity and Inclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the day-to-day activities for most of us, but it’s not preventing hugs in Baltimore.  And while the hugs being given out now may be virtual, they are still helping the community.

Back in 2017, BGE Field Support Assistant Val Jenkins founded Hug Don’t Shoot to bring a sense of peace to the community, “one hug at a time.” The non-profit organization was created because Val was frustrated with the city’s high crime rate and she believed the simple act of a hug could help spread compassion and empathy throughout the community.

Val Jenkins gets help from Ray Lewis at a recent Hug Don't Shoot event in Baltimore
Val Jenkins gets help from Ray Lewis at a recent Hug Don’t Shoot event in Baltimore

The organization has now participated in more than 1600 events at hospitals, nursing homes and community centers across Baltimore, to increase awareness about their cause and provide a sense of peace in the community.

Hug Don’t Shoot provides resources and programs to support communities directly impacted by violent crimes or other tragic events.  They also recruit “hug dealers” to provide support in Baltimore, and thanks to word of mouth and social media there’s now a network of “hug dealers” across the country. The organization’s “hug dealers” are now helping communities in North Carolina, Texas, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, and Virginia.

Val’s work has been recognized by numerous individuals and groups including Governor Hogan’s office, the Investigation Discovery network, and the Ravens who presented her with a Hometown Hero award.

Val Jenkins and Hug Don't Shoot receive the Baltimore Ravens' Hometown Hero award
Val Jenkins and Hug Don’t Shoot receive the Baltimore Ravens’ Hometown Hero award

Val says that none of this would have been possible without the support BGE and Exelon, and she counts them as her number-one sponsors and champions. “I never realized how powerful hugs were. I’m no longer Val Jenkins, I’m the hug lady.”