Former ‘Miss Irvington’ becomes ‘Mama Meow’ on crusade to save stray cats

IRVINGTON, NJ — Although Charlotte Galla has been a public figure in Irvington for more than 20 years, it was her new identity as “Mama Meow” who showed up at the township’s official Earth Day celebration at Jessica Quintana’s McDonald’s restaurant on Saturday, April 28.

“I used to be the title ‘Miss Irvington,’ due to the fact I care about where I live. Everybody in this township is important to me, because we all have our gifts that we can share and that’s so important to me,” Galla said at the celebration. “I have a new name. It’s called ‘Mama Meow’ and it’s the ‘Cat Lady’ and what I’m trying to do is make a quality-of-life issue here that we create a positive change for the community cats in Irvington. That’s why I’m dressed as the Cat Lady to get the message out. Those cats are suffering, they’re dying, they’re multiplying and we, as a community of residents, must make a change and we will, because our honorable mayor, Tony Vauss, is saying: ‘One team one dream’ and I think we’ll make it that way.”

Vauss was unavailable for comment about Galla’s cat crusade by press time this week; however, Public Safety Director Tracy Bowers said he is ready to help out.

“The Department of Public Safety deals with quality-of-life issues as well,” said Bowers on Sunday, May 6. “So we will assist residents, however we can. At the end of the day, it affects the community, so it affects us.”

Galla, who said she has dedicated her life to Irvington, is looking for cat lovers who are interested in doing something about an issue she believes is urgent.

“I’m a former Environmental Protection Commission member for 20 years and I also had an active club called the Irvington Environmental Club. What happened is that, as an instructor when I was there, we always did Earth Day every day, as well as the urban educational program that they don’t have anymore,” said Galla, who also worked with former Mayor Wayne Smith to establish an Earth Day program.

“Thank God for the McDonald’s crew … They decided that this would be a great place to reach more youth and that they would be able to sponsor us.”

Jessica and Celeste Quintana, the McDonald’s franchise owners, said giving back to the township and the community where they make their living is just part of their commitment to serving their customers the best way possible.

“I’m here with my mom, Celeste Quintana. We’re celebrating Earth Day here in Irvington, with the mayor, with the council people, and the entire community,” said Jessica Quintana on Saturday, April 28. “We just want to show the community we’re here for you, we’re here to try to save the planet and we’re happy to be here.”

Galla said she has always been happy to work with the Quintanas and support them by patronizing their restaurant.

“We were so thrilled when the Quintanas decided to sponsor us and so was the mayor, and we wanted to get the message out: Earth Day every day,” Galla said. “If we reached one person today that is going to do something in the future, that’s what it’s all about. Earth Day is preserving your environment in your own community in your own neighborhood. Today, the enthusiasm that I saw, the excitement that I saw, gives me hope that there are people that will carry on the tradition of Earth Day every day in the future.”

Galla added that she is looking for, “people that are passionate about making positive changes for cats.”

Galla also said that her other efforts in the township have all been about bringing about positive change.

“We’re here for a purpose. God gave me this mission, to make a difference in our township, because we do have people that are hurting and need to be helped. … I did make a difference and that’s what it’s all about, making a difference in someone’s life.”