Star of Queens: Bob Widdows
President, East Coast Car Association
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Bob Widdows became president of the East Coast Car Association (ECCA) after Eddie Walter, the organization’s founder, passed away in 2007. Widdows says the ECCA currently has around nine members who work together to organize car shows and cruise nights, which are held every Tuesday and Saturday night and consist of getting together at a park or a parking lot to socialize and work on cars. The East Coast Car Association’s main purpose, however, is to raise money and host an annual toy run for St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children in Bayside.
“It’s not a traditional car club,” Widdows said. “There are no dues, we just give back to the community.”
PERSONAL: Widdows has been involved with the ECCA since its inception in 1999. He currently lives in Glendale and in his spare time he likes to work on cars and plan events for the Association. He prides the car club on having what he calls “a very loyal following.”
FAVORITE MEMORY: Widdows says his favorite memory is East Coast Car Association’s annual toy drive, in which participants bring new, unwrapped toys to St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children. After the children come down to pick out their toys, St. Mary’s is presented a check with all of the money ECCA raised over the year.
“That’s the high point of the year, the culmination of all our efforts,” he said.
INSPIRATION: Widdows says he has always been inspired by the Association’s founder, Eddie Walter. He praises Walter for getting involved with helping St. Mary’s along with creating a place for people with like-minded views to give back as well.
“Once people get involved, many stay for years,” Widdows said. “It’s a good thing to do. We keep it in Eddie’s memory.”
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: In the early years of the ECCA, Widdows said it was difficult getting through all of the paperwork in order to be officially recognized as a charity by the government.
“That was the biggest hurdle,” he said, adding that by remaining persistent, they were able to overcome the obstacle.
As for right now, the biggest problem the organization runs into is losing space for their shows, but Widdows remains optimistic, saying that they usually manage to pull it off.