Titcomb said at the time of the bar closing, Post 210 had fewer than 10 active members but now has about 50 members that regularly participate in events.
Post 210 members have recently held blood drives and significantly increased their annual poppy sales under the leadership of member Marc Anderson while retaining the post’s charitable gambling operations through a partnership with Lakeville Brewing Co., which has remodeled and located in the post’s former club building.
Since the restaurant’s closing, Post 210 members have donated $10,000 to the Hastings Veterans Home to build a greenhouse for the veterans to work in and volunteered for projects that include raising about $10,000-$15,000 to buy materials to help Iraq veteran Dave Rosc.
He and wife Kim Rosc recently purchased their first home in Burnsville, but soon they and their preschool children began suffering severe illnesses that included headaches, joint pain and seizures. Doctors confirmed their medical issues were caused by a mold infestation discovered in a crawl space of their home.
The family was forced to move into a townhome, and after losing in arbitration because Titcomb said the previous owner and real estate agent established plausible deniability, the Roscs were left with a mortgage in addition to medical and legal bills and rent for the townhome.
The cost to restore their home, which required stripping walls down to the studs, was about $125,000.
A GoFundMe page started by the couple’s church has so far raised $25,900 for the family. An Apple Valley American Legion benefit raised $3,500, Yellow Ribbon organizations stepped in to help and Tee It Up for the Troops donated $7,500. With Post 210’s donation and its ramp-building team that took the lead on the work and donated over 1,600 hours of skilled labor, the culmination of donations made it possible for the family to move back into their home last weekend. Volunteers are still helping the family with needed work at the house.
Post 210 Cmdr. Vince Goodwin said all the activity and outreach is attracting younger veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to its Post 210 membership.
"They really want to go out and do what our charter is, to help vets,” Goodwin said. "These guys are all gung ho about doing it, they are joining up and becoming active members. It’s been a nice, pleasant journey here for my first year as commander.”
He called the club a "money pit” they do not have to worry about anymore, noting that membership meetings are also positive and looking forward.
Titcomb agreed. He said Post 210 meetings used to be attended by five or six members who spent all the time focused on how to keep the lights on at the club.
"We were literally bankrupt,” he said. "We had no working capital, and we were at the point where the club really couldn’t continue. At a certain point, the writing was on the wall.”
He said Post 210 now has close to $400,000 in assets, and members are reaching out to learn of member and community needs.
They delivered candy to homebound members at Christmas, both as a gift and a way to see if they could use some help or resources.
"We want to do periodic check-ins with our members, particularly our elders,” Titcomb said. "Our No. 1 goal is to try to reach out to our members.”
The change in focus has revived meetings, regularly drawing 25 members or more to attend, with many active committees that are starting to focus on 2019 festivities celebrating the 100th anniversary of Post 210.
Pan-O-Prog’s 2019 theme will be focused on the event, and Post 210 will be bringing in a Vietnam Memorial Wall that will be on display during the community celebration.
"It’s going to be a pretty big thing,” Titcomb said. "They’re bringing in a lot of things from the history of the VFW in Lakeville, all the different generations.”
He said they are planning to hold re-enactments and have people marching in the parade representing different eras of the VFW. The celebration is set to culminate with a large banquet at Brackett’s Crossing where they will recognize Medal of Honor winners and longtime members.
Post 210 has also replaced its old uniforms with crisp new ones that match, and its Memorial Day tributes this year will include Patriot Guard motorcyclists riding alongside the buses as they travel to cemeteries putting on Memorial Day programs at cemeteries in and around Lakeville May 29.
Lakeville American Legion members, Boy Scouts and the Lakeville North High School band will also continue participating in the ceremonies that start at 8 a.m. at Orchard Lake Cemetery and end around 12:45 p.m. at the Lakeville Veterans Memorial in Aronson Park.
"There’s some pretty exciting things going on now,” Titcomb said
He said they are actively seeking ways to help veterans and the community, and they invite people to alert them to needs by contacting them at 612-888-5210 or online at vfwlakeville.org.
"Where we’re at today is exactly where we wanted it to end up,” said former Post 210 Cmdr. Randy Pronschinske, who led the organization when the hard decision was made to close the club. "We’re doing great things for, not only the community, but for veterans. It’s quite rewarding to do those kinds of things.”