Local Hero: Gayle Christensen


Presented to an individual who showed concern and actively works to improve the safety and well being of others.

It doesn’t take a long meeting with Gayle Christensen to see that she’s the kind of person who is spurred to action when she sees a need. In this case, the need was a comprehensive emergency response plan for the residents of Applewood Pointe New Brighton, a 120-unit multistory senior housing cooperative. Her neighbors rest easy knowing Gayle has left no stone unturned in protecting their lives and property in the case of a fire or other natural disaster.

Gayle not only developed a comprehensive emergency response plan for the residents of Applewood Pointe based on her training in the City of New Brighton Department of Public Safety Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training program, she also serves as a volunteer of the Safety & Security Committee of Applewood Pointe. In this role, she organized a group of fire wardens to direct other residents safely out of the building should a disaster occur, developed an accountability system for tracking residents, and provides fire responders with a weekly unit-by-unit assessment of residents who may need extra help evacuating their unit. Her emergency response plan is so thorough other senior communities have used it as a model.

As the mother of a volunteer firefighter, Gayle appreciates the physically demanding and sometimes dangerous work these volunteers do. She gives back to these individuals through volunteering as a member of the Volunteers in Public Safety (VIPS). Last year alone, she donated nearly 300 hours of volunteer hours by doing everything from organizing recognition dinners for volunteer firefighters to helping coordinate Applewood Pointe’s National Night Out Celebration.

“Gayle displays boundless energy as a volunteer—she’s always willing to help out in the time of need,” says Tony Paetznick, an employee with the New Brighton Department of Public Safety. “She truly is an asset to our organization.”