Your guide to family events, stories and news in Western Wisconsin.


Finding a Home in ‘the Perfect Community’

Couple find their hearts draw them back to Eau Claire, where Wisconsin winters offer cabin time and and cocoa-drinking

Sarah French

Husband, Ray
Daughters Phoebe (6) and Maggie (2)

Putnam Heights, Eau Claire

After starting their career elsewhere, Sarah French and her husband, Ray, decided to relocate their young family to the place they met. “Our hearts were calling us home to Eau Claire, so we moved back in 2015,” Sarah says. Now she’s executive director of the Eau Claire Public Schools Foundation, which raises money for the Eau Claire Area School District. Sarah and Ray, who works for the City of Eau Claire, met while attending UW-Eau Claire. The couple were drawn to the Twin Cities for graduate school, then spent a few years in River Falls during their early professional careers. Sarah calls the Chippewa Valley a “perfect community,” where she’s happy to raise he daughters, Phoebe and Maggie. “When we are not with our kiddos or at work, Ray is in The Master Singers, and I chair the UWEC Alumni Board,” Sarah says. “We both love our work very much, and enjoy taking in all Eau Claire has to offer with our daughters!”

We love the Chippewa Valley because it is truly the perfect community. The resources of a big city, the community feel of a small town. Strong schools, pride in local business, incredible arts, awesome food, amazing outdoor/active life, etc. The Chippewa Valley rocks!

I couldn’t live without hugs from my family, dry shampoo, and flannel sheets.

I make sure to never miss Master Singers concerts – my husband is in the ensemble, but we went to concerts even before he joined. If you’ve never heard them in concert, you gotta go! Their music will fill your soul.  

My favorite places to take the kids are the library, Ramone’s Ice Cream Parlor, Eau Claire Children’s Theatre shows, Lake Altoona Beach, and the downtown farmers market. (It’s very hard to pick one favorite place!)

My family has taught me that bees are more attracted to honey than vinegar. Be kind!   

I never leave the house without coffee!

Our typical weekend is either at the family cabin or taking in the Chippewa Valley’s many treasures. We love to make brunch, visit the farmers market, go camping, or kayak on Half Moon Lake.

In the winter, you’ll find us sledding at Pinehurst or at home enjoying hot cocoa, baking cookies, and reading.

When the kids are with a sitter, we love to grab dinner at Draganetti’s or Houligans, enjoy some live music downtown, and then a nightcap at the Dive. The perfect date!

My spouse always laughs at me because I overthink questions like this one. Seriously!

My spouse would say my super power is making the perfect stove-top popcorn.

My kids will tell you that their mom (word for word) “is the Sleepy dwarf from Snow White!” … hence the never leaving the house without coffee.

If I could pass on one bit of advice it would be to try new things! You could discover a great new hobby, your new best friends, or an incredible community of support just by saying “yes” to something that makes you a bit nervous.