Money raised through pull-tab sales supports non-profits and the Wayzata Fire Department

For more than 30 years, lawful gambling has helped the Wayzata Lions Club affect the community in a positive way.

From the volunteer fire department to the Boardwalk Apartments, the club’s touch can be felt in countless ways. Club president Tim Anderson said about $2.4 million has gone back into the greater area thanks to lawful gambling.

The Wayzata Lions Board of Directors gather at an annual picnic. Pictured left to right: Peter Albrecht, Brandon Abel, Nancy Nelson McIntosh, Lesa Fenwick, Pat Moran, Don Marks, Greg Greffin.

During a presentation at a regular city council meeting on Nov. 16, Anderson said the club has contributed more than $1.4 million to the city and more than $339,000 to the surrounding area.

The Wayzata Lions Club has about 20 members currently.

The club was entrusted with handling lawful gambling in 1988 by overseeing the pull-tab gaming at the Wayzata Bar and Grill. The lawful gambling partnership with the city allows the club to give gambling revenues to nonprofit organizations.

Wayzata is a safer community as a result of the operation as around half of the revenue generated is donated to the City of Wayzata's Fire Department through the Wayzata Fire Relief Association.  Over the years this partnership has benefited residents by regularly funding a long list of items the department has needed including cold water rescue suits, uniforms, fans, hose, and truck upgrades.

"We’ve also been able to contribute to Lions international priorities, such as disaster relief and humanitarian efforts,” Anderson said. “We have about eight part-time pull-tab employees who rotate down there at the Muni.”

More locally the Wayzata Lions Club donates annually to the Wayzata senior community via the Boardwalk Apartments to make transportation possible for residents. It also provides annual scholarships to Wayzata High School seniors every year as well and donates to other school programs.

The club also donates to a variety of charities with a focus on helping people with vision and hearing loss, children’s cancer research and support, the Salvation Army and a large number of one-time donations just to name a few; and lawful gambling is a primary funding source for those charitable efforts.

Other local non-profits such as Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners have also received significant contributions over the years approaching over $100,000.

Nancy Nelson McIntosh took over the role of gambling manager for the club earlier this year after her father Bill Nelson passed away. Bill Nelson managed lawful gambling for 32 years since its inception in 1988. In recent years, McIntosh and her sister Marcia Yeung had been helping him with the operation.

“It’s been a very profitable and really clean operation,” McIntosh said. “We’ve been able to give a lot back to the community of Wayzata. One of the biggest beneficiaries is the city itself through the fire department. Aside from that, our list of beneficiaries is really extensive.”

"I’ve met so many people from the Wayzata community and business community there," she said. "It really overall has been a positive in terms of what the Lions are able to give back. The whole social purpose of what we’re doing has been significant."

Longtime Lions Club member and Wayzata Charter Commissioner Kent Howe said many people are unaware just how much the club has affected Wayzata by giving back from lawful gambling.

"It's been an honor to be entrusted with the pull-tab operation and we are very grateful to the community. Our charitable works have been ongoing since 1988 and our partners like the Fire Department and IOCP have benefited greatly through this continuing program," he said.

Howe, Anderson and McIntosh are unsure what the reception of lawful gambling was like in Wayzata in 1988 as none of them were involved with the club at the time. But they agreed the club’s charitable nature has made lawful gambling an overall positive and fruitful addition to Wayzata.

Other programs the Wayzata Lions are involved with annually include collecting eyeglasses and hearing aids, holiday bell ringing for the Salvation Army at Lunds & Byerlys, a Belgian Waffle Breakfast fundraiser at St. Barts, and serving at community events by volunteering at the information and beer tents at James J. Hill Days and responding to Letters for Santa at the Light up the Lake event.

Last summer, the club volunteered to help with traffic control for Tour de Tonka. It has also been a volunteer for the Hennepin County Adopt A Highway program, which sees members doing cleanup on Highway 101 twice a year.

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