Best Buddies of Tennessee adapting to pandemic

NASHVILLE, TENN. (WSMV) – Charitable organizations and non-profit groups continue to be hit especially hard during the pandemic, and we get it – when people are making less money, there’s less money to give.

But what if there was another way you could help?

“We rely on individual donations, special events, and we’ve really seen a financial impact,” said Jessica Wylie, director of Best Buddies Tennessee.

Best Buddies is an organization that works to include and provide opportunities for people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

They put on unique events, like a prom for people in our community that can be forgotten or dismissed.

 “Unfortunately, all of our in-person events have been canceled,” Wylie said. “With a lot of our participants, not being able to meet face to face has really taken a toll on them.”

And like many groups, they’ve been navigating this current environment the best they can.

“We’re really looking at how we can spread our message across the state,” Wylie said.

That means at virtual events like the Best Buddies Friendship Walk, coming up on Halloween, everyone’s invited to participate.

They’re also in the running to win a financial grant from the State Farm Neighborhood Assist program.

“The hard part now is the voting,” Wylie said. “We need folks to help us vote to make it to the top 40 for chance to win $25,000.”

About that – voting went live at midnight and you can now help a local group with just a few clicks online.

To vote in the State Farm Neighborhood Assist Program, click here. You can vote up to 10 times per day. 

To learn more about the Best Buddies Friendship Walk click here. is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, 4WARN weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from News4 Nashville.

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Petition calling for reinstatement of peanut festival activities

Little Miss National Peanut Festival pageant 2019

Over 5,000 people want to see the decision to cancel the 2020 National Peanut Festival’s many events overturned, according to petition.

The petition was posted after a joint decision by the National Peanut Festival board, city of Dothan and Houston County commissioners, and Reithoffer Shows was made public on Thursday to cancel the annual fair and all associated activities.

At 2:15 p.m. Tuesday, the petition had over 5,000 signatures, reaching its goal. The petition organizer set a new goal of 7,500 signatures shortly prior.

Many who are signing the petition are advocating for the entire festival to be reinstated, including the midway rides, food vendors, the agriculture exhibits and shows, the parade, and pageant.

However, most people are chiefly concerned with the auxiliary components of the fair – the pageant, livestock competitions, and carnival food sales.

Stephen Evans, the organizer of the petition and a local financial advisor, said the effects of the fair’s cancellation will be devastating to a number of groups.

“I want it to be reinstated because I think it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “There’s no re-doing what they’re stopping.”

New York lawmakers to OK automatic voter registration

Elections 9.JPG

Voters cast their ballots at Sacred Heart Church polling place in Owasco during the general election.

New York is closer to becoming the 20th state to adopt an automatic voter registration system. 

The Democratic-led state Legislature has reached an agreement on legislation that will be considered this week. The bill would allow New Yorkers to be registered to vote when they interact with a state or local agency. 

The list of agencies that would participate in the automatic voter registration system includes the state Department of Motor Vehicles, the state Department of Health, the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the state Department of Labor and the Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities. 

County and city social services departments, along with the New York City Housing Authority, would be included as participating agencies. 

New Yorkers who are eligible to vote and interact with those agencies would be automatically registered unless they choose to opt out. Individuals who aren’t eligible to vote wouldn’t be registered and agencies would be prohibited from relaying applications to the state Board of Elections. 

State Sen. Michael Gianaris, who is the sponsor of the bill in the Senate, believes the proposal would make it easier to vote in New York. 

“With approximately 2 million eligible voters not currently on the rolls, automatic registration will make a huge difference in increasing our state’s voter participation,” Gianaris, D-Queens, said.