Vicki Kupferman remembers the early days of Future MSAD 3. The group describes itself as a not-for-profit charitable corporation “working to raise funds for enhancements to the new Mount View school.”

Members of the organization went to all kinds of public events — dances, dinners and parades, to name a few — and handed out bright yellow cards to tell people what Future was all about.

Collecting various coins was a fundraising mainstay, as elementary schools hosted penny drives and events such as the “Miles of Quarters” campaign took place at open houses.

That was more than five years ago. Recently, Future’s four-member executive committee and Campaign Director Alicia J. Nichols sat down to talk about what the group has accomplished in that time and what they have their sights set on next.

The discussion took place in what Nichols termed the “shining example” of what Future has been able to accomplish, thanks to private contributions.

That shining example is the Clifford Performing Arts Center, located in the heart of the new Mount View complex. Original plans called for a single room with 175 seats in straight rows, with no aisles running between them, all laid out on a flat floor.

“Just like the old cafeteria,” Nichols said.

Enter Future MSAD 3. Through a combination of penny drives, golf tournaments, matching grants and other means, the organization managed to raise more than $575,000 to fund the 300-seat Arts Center, which now has significantly more features than the original plans called for. The new school, Nichols said, “would have suffered if Future hadn’t undertaken that first campaign.”

“I still can’t believe we’re sitting here,” said Troy resident Barrie Fernald, who serves as Future’s treasurer, referring to Future’s success with adding enhancements to the Arts Center.

With the Arts Center under its belt, Future next set its sights on athletic enhancements. Group members explained that early on there was a decision to focus on what they called “the three A’s”: academics, arts and athletics. Athletics came in third because the other two items needed to be taken care of while the school building was being constructed.

Nichols said Future, as it now seeks contributions for athletic enhancements, can use the Arts Center as an example of what the organization has the ability to accomplish when talking with prospective donors.

“This is our track record,” she said.

Work on the athletic enhancement project began in the summer of 2007, and in early 2008 the Athletic Enhancement Advisory Committee was formed. Nichols and Kupferman said during the spring of 2008, AEAC members polled the community to see what enhancements they wanted.

Kupferman — a resident of Knox, who serves as the chairwoman of the Future MSAD 3 board — said at least 40 community meetings were held, and Nichols said more than 300 people gave input. When the brainstorming sessions were finished, the committee had a list of 179 items. That list was then refined following conversations with school officials and the architects working on the new school.

As with the Arts Center, Future focused on the items that would not be funded by the state. In the case of the athletic enhancements, that included scoreboards, bleachers, lights, dugouts and assorted equipment.

Before those items could be added, though, other things had to be in place — namely, water lines, electrical conduit and sewer lines. The total price tag for these items came to $124,000, and to meet that goal Future launched the “First Things First” campaign.

“The rationale behind First Things First is that the infrastructure had to be in place first before the whole thing could be advanced,” Kupferman explained. “We knew if Future didn’t do that, it wasn’t going to happen.”

Nichols acknowledges that in a perfect world, Future would have gone out and raised all the funds and then had the work done. She and Kupferman noted, however, that the infrastructure needed to be put in place while the fields and track were being built, rather than at a later date.

In the midst of a struggling economy, however, Future was not able to raise all of the money needed by the time the bills came in. Future still needs to raise more than $66,000 to reach the goal of $124,000.

“We need people to consider giving at any level, and we need absolutely every gift at every level,” said Nichols, relating the story of a woman who had approached her and told her she wasn’t going to give anything because she didn’t think she could give enough.

Nichols said no gift is too small, and she noted that with matching campaigns — such as the recent announcement of a $5,000 matching gift from UniTel and the Unity Foundation — gifts are effectively doubled. A $5 gift becomes a $10 gift, for example, and Nichols said those amounts are just as critical as any other gifts.

“It’s an absolute broad-based campaign,” she said. “If you can give, give what you can.”

Some in SAD 3 have taken that message to heart. Nichols said one individual recently made a third contribution to Future’s fundraising efforts.

“That’s spirit,” she said. “A third check — that’s absolutely what it’s all about.”

The executive committee members have that spirit, as well. Fernald, who is a grandmother of four current SAD 3 students, said she wants to see those children and others enjoy more opportunities than those who came before them enjoyed.

“This is our chance to give them more than they’ve ever had,” she said.

Kupferman, whose children are both Mount View alums, voiced a similar sentiment and said she wants to leave things better off for current and future students in SAD 3. Brooks resident Paula Miron, Future’s secretary, said the organization’s work is in essence the continuation of work that began when the district was first formed.

“Our parents and grandparents fought very hard for SAD 3 way back when,” she said. “It’s important to pass it on to the students who are coming up.”

Nichols made stressed that the improvements Future is now working on will benefit more than just those students who take part in varsity sports. She said for many SAD 3 students, physical activity is primarily school-based — whether it’s being on a sports team, or taking part in a physical education class.

“The district’s offerings for youth, in terms of physical activity, are very important,” said Nichols. “This will be serving the entire student population, not just those on sports teams.”

Anyone interested in making a tax-deductible contribution to Future may do so by writing to Future MSAD 3, P.O. Box 151, Unity, ME 04988. For more information about Future and its fundraising efforts, call 948-6120, e-mail futuremsad3@yahoo.com or visit futuremsad3.org.

At the end of the recent group discussion with the Future executive committee, Nichols summarized what Future’s goal is with the current project.

“We’re asking people to join our team to transform these facilities for the kids in the community,” she said.