Class Note

the hugging army book cover

Vanessa L. White Fernandes Authored The Hugging Army

Class of 1984

(Submitted on: November 19, 2018)

The Hugging Army: An Experience in Connection is the first published book authored by Vanessa L. White Fernandes ’84, who has been a social worker for more than 30 years, with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the fields of social work and counseling. She has been a writer most of her life and has maintained a blog for twelve years. Her hugging journey began when she got a hug from a woman named Amma, known as the Hugging Saint, who travels the world and hugs people for days on end. Vanessa recalls, “The hug I received from her was present, deep, and loving. I wanted to keep that energy alive in me. I wanted to impact the world in a meaningful way.”

She brought that energy home to Northeast Pennsylvania and, since then, has been spreading her love in the world one hug at a time. Through storytelling and photographs, Vanessa expresses the positive impact that hugging strangers has had on her life. She shares what a mindful hug is, the healing benefits of mindful hugging, and how to reconnect with others, in your own unique and powerful way. The book is an assortment of stories and photographs of all of her hugging experiences over the last three years, including her Hug Bug Tour, during which Vanessa drove over 3,000 miles and gave dozens of hugs. To obtain the book and follow Vanessa’s hugging adventures, visit

Vanessa L. White Fernandes Authored The Hugging Army