Questioning the Locals | Maria Van Hoorn

getting to know our neighbors

Kinzy Janssen |


WHO: Maria Van Hoorn
development associate at  Hagar USA
Eau Claire’s Eastside Hill
3 years 

Maria lives on the Eastside Hill with her husband Tom Stolp. She works for Hagar USA, an international nonprofit organization that provides healing and recovery to survivors of human trafficking in Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Vietnam. She enjoys gardening, biking along the Eau Claire and Chippewa River, frequenting downtown events and businesses, and learning about Eau Claire from her husband’s parents, who are lifelong residents.

What’s your favorite piece of local trivia? 

Dear Abby and Ann Landers lived in my neighborhood, the East Hill, and that my husband’s great great grandfather owned a grocery store on Water Street called Han’s Peterson, Dealer of Staple and Fine Groceries. A receipt from his store is on display in the Chippewa Valley Museum.

What is one of the best cultural experiences you’ve had in the Chippewa Valley?

I love the summer concert series. It’s the best way to enjoy Eau Claire’s scenic river ways, local music, and community members.  

What frustrates you about the Chippewa Valley?

I love Eau Claire’s downtown and try to frequent it as much as possible, but it’s difficult when local businesses are rarely open after 5pm on weeknights or on Sundays (excluding restaurants). I work and spend the majority of leisure time downtown and I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve wanted to go to a local business and it’s been closed. As a consumer and professional that works from 9am to 5pm, I need businesses to be open after 5pm regularly on weeknights.

Who is the greatest Wisconsinite of all time?

Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day. We have him to thank for the strong conservation tradition in Wisconsin. We have some of finest bodies of fresh water, forests, and agricultural land in the nation. Now, we just need to remember that.

What sort of economic development would you like to see in our area?

It’s more like I know what I don’t want…. and that’d be frac sand mining. We have pristine beautiful farm land in Western Wisconsin.  As my dad, a part-time farmer, would say, “The land is not valuable once it’s gone.” 

Do you have a favorite local band?

The Heart Pills.

Death bed, one meal from a local restaurant, what would it be?

Main course: Monkey Roll at Shanghai Bistro. It doesn’t contain actual monkey… just salmon, avocado, mango sauce and fried wontons.  It’s heavenly. Beverage: Moon Man Beer from New Glarus Brewery. Dessert: Obsession Chocolates’ Chocolate Croissant fresh out of the oven.  I’m addicted.

What place in town considers you a regular?

Just Local Food. It’s what a hometown grocery store should be… friendly with a great selection of local food.

If you could magically add one store, restaurant, or shop to the area, what would it be and why? 

Waterfront restaurant located downtown with casual and upscale dining with a focus on local food when possible.

Describe your last encounter with the police department.

Dinner with my friend, Officer Mike Major, and his wife Chloe at the Pizza Farm in Stockholm. He’s the nicest cop in town

Water Street or Downtown?