North Coast

Ensuring Everyone Has the Opportunity to Play

Mary Blake’s mission is to ensure that every adult and child has the opportunity to play. She oversaw 14 community pools for Portland Parks & Recreation in the early 1980s — an era of declining government funding and rising fees for once-free pools. “Morale was about as high as a snake’s hips,” she recalls. This uncertain period was Blake’s catalyst for 30 years of community building centered on improving access to water play.

“We need organizations like OCF now more than ever. And we need people not to be miserly but to look to their resources and understand that you can’t take it with you, so put it to something that can make a difference.”

Member of OCF’s North Coast Leadership Council

In 1984, Blake was drawn to the open waters of Seaside, where she joined Sunset Empire Park & Recreation District. In 1986, she encountered OCF through the Lester and Sarah Louise Raw Seaside Youth Fund, which initially launched a scholarship program to get low-income kids to the pool and later supported after-school programming and a nutrition program. “At every step of the way, OCF was there. OCF has their name on almost every project we ever got involved with,” Blake says.

Now retired, Blake continues her community-building work by serving on OCF’s North Coast Leadership Council. She’s also establishing a permanently endowed testamentary fund that will support parks and recreation programming for young women and girls, and food and health programs along the North Coast, for decades to come. And her legacy gift with OCF will support programs she believes in beyond her lifetime.

“My life has been very blessed,” Blake says. “It just takes your breath away when you know that you can support the things you believe in.”