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Meghan Connell, 41

Occupation: Director of Gift of Hope, Inc.
City: Kimberling City
Husband: Chad Connell

What is your charity of choice, and why is it important to you?

Gift of Hope, Inc. This charity provides food to eat on the weekend for children who have shown signs of hunger on Monday mornings during the school year. It also provides life’s essentials to families, such as rental, utility and food assistance to those in need.

What do you think makes a woman beautiful?

A beautiful woman is sincere, caring and gives selflessly to those she encounters.

Why do you think you’re a 10 Most Beautiful Women finalist?

I am so blessed and humbled to be recognized as one of the “10 Most Beautiful Women” finalists! I would say that I am a finalist because of the incredible opportunity I have been given to be a part of feeding children and helping families that need it the most in Taney County Missouri. I also am surrounded by beautiful women in my family and my friends, who I look to for inspiration.

Do you volunteer, or are you involved in any philanthropic or community organizations?

I am involved with several organizations in my community, in particular those that help families in need: Forsyth Boys and Girls Club Advisory Committee, Branson Lakes/Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau Membership and Funding Advisory Council, Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation Taney County Board of Director, Branson Lakes/Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau Non Profit Committee and Branson Tri-Lakes Kiwanis Club Board of Directors, and Advisory Council for the Tri Lakes Area United Way.

How are those experiences meaningful to you?

I am in awe and inspired by the compassion and consideration of the organizations I am involved with for those less fortunate in our community.

Tell us what you do for a living:

I am employed by National Enzyme Company to coordinate the charity it created (Gift of Hope, Inc.). It created Gift of Hope, Inc., in the early ’90s to help those in the community who needed assistance with food, warm winter clothes, utility assistance, rental assistance or Christmas gifts. As Director, I apply for grants, coordinate fundraisers and work with counselors and teachers who identify hungry children in eight schools in Taney County. Gift of Hope provides supplemental food for those hungry children to take home with them each weekend to eat during the school year. One aspect of my job offers me the opportunity to help families during the holiday season by going Christmas shopping with them to not only to purchase food and winter clothing but also to get Christmas gifts for them and the children. This experience is deeply touching to think that Gift of Hope was able to bring joy to a family that otherwise would not have anything on Christmas.

What has been your proudest moment?

My proudest moment was when funding was secured to provide food for children in all of the Taney County schools. I am most proud of being a part of the “big picture” and working with volunteers, organizations and businesses that have made this possible. In addition to that, I am most proud of the day that I married my soulmate, my husband Chad!

What has been your biggest hurdle to overcome?

It was a life changing decision to leave my family’s business at Connell Insurance to get back into the nonprofit sector, which I feel is my true calling. The hurdle since then has been FUNDING for all of the incredible projects Gift of Hope coordinates!

What are three words that describe you?

Passionate, loyal, involved.

What’s your favorite feature about yourself?

I don’t think that I have a favorite “feature.” I do think that I can say I have never met a stranger.

When you were a child, who did you think was the most beautiful woman?

I thought my mother was the most beautiful person on earth, and I still do. She is stunningly beautiful on the outside and in. She is an incredible role model and always cared for others before herself.

What’s your favorite source of inspiration?

I am inspired by others who give their time and talent selflessly for the betterment of others. It gives me inspiration to help in any way possible especially when it comes to children. My religion and faith inspires and guides me every day!

What advice would you give to a young girl about being beautiful?

Be humble, be gracious, enjoy every moment of your life and always find humor in life’s experiences.

What are your favorite ways to spend a day off?

A day on Table Rock Lake with my husband, family and friends. And going for a long run through the Port of Kimberling Marina and campground. I consider this my “therapy.”

What is your most prized possession?

It is not a physical possession per se, but it is the love and support I have from my husband, family and best of friends.

What is your Facebook status right now?

Not sure what means... Sorry, I am not much of a Facebook person. I have one though!

If you could have one talent that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

Wow, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one! I wish I were more mathematically inclined.

What’s something that might surprise us about you, or a story you love to tell?

Deep down, I am really an “old soul.” I love to spend time with my grandma and older generations because of their stories of life. My grandma has a great scene of humor. Ever since I was little, when I worry about what my hair looks like or if I am wearing the right thing, she has one of the best sayings that I have always taken to heart: “Don’t worry. Nobody is lookin’ at you anyway.”