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Amherst woman receives DAR grant for temple restoration in Connecticut

AMHERST — Elsie Fetterman of Amherst has received a $9,838 grant from the Daughters of the American Revolution for restoration work at the Connecticut temple she and 40 Holocaust survivors founded in 1950.

Fetterman, 87, who is also a member of the Jewish Community of Amherst, is on the board of directors of Temple Beth Israel in Danielson, Conn., and a member of its preservation society. She was one of 19 recipients of grants awarded by the DAR, which, according to its website, provides money for projects which advance its mission of historic preservation, education and patriotism. Fetterman and her son and daughter-in-law will match the DAR funds to rebuild the patio deck at the temple.

“I was thrilled and I was excited,” Fetterman said. “To be 87 years old and still have the ability to write a successful grant proposal, made me feel really rejuvenated. No doctor could ever provide medication for what it did for me.”

To apply for the money, Fetterman had to submit a detailed description of the project and its cost, as well as a brief history of the organization, information on the community and proof that she would provide matching funds. Her son, David Fetterman who works at Stanford University in California, and his wife, Summer Fetterman who works for Google, are splitting that sum with her. The deck at Temple Beth Israel has sustained water damage over the years and is in danger of eventually collapsing, Fetterman said. She found the DAR program while researching online possible funding sources.

Fetterman, who grew up in Danielson and worked at the University of Connecticut as a consumer education specialist, moved to Amherst in 1979 to take the job of assistant director of the University of Massachusetts Cooperative Extension. She and her late husband, Irving Fetterman, became active in the Jewish Community of Amherst, where he served on its building committee.

Over the years, however, she has remained more involved with Temple Beth Israel, going there about once a week where, she said, she enjoys working with people of different ages. “People at the temple make you feel wonderful. I’m so inspired by the younger generation,” she added.

Temple Beth Israel president Norman Burman called Fetterman “the dream board member.” He said she has “incredible passion, energy, creativity, determination. She’s just a pleasure to have on the board.”

He said now that the funds are in place, bids will be sought for the patio project.

Fetterman now is on to other projects, still applying for grant money. She hopes to find funds for a documentary she would like to make of every one of the founders of Temple Beth Israel. And, she is currently organizing a party for 99-year-old Holocaust survivor Ray Gawendo. “I think people stereotype, and when they think of someone of my age, they think of people taking cruises, and not writing grants,” she said.

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