Three Local Women to be honored as Women of Distinction by Girl Scouts of South Carolina – Mountains to Midlands

Spartanburg, SC –Girl Scouts of South Carolina – Mountains to Midlands will honor three Spartanburg-area women at its annual Boots and Pearls Awards Dinner on Monday, November 12 at the Marriott in Spartanburg beginning at 6:00 p.m. The evening pays tribute to women who exemplify excellence in service, leadership, community visibility, and professionalism.

This year’s honorees are: Valerie Manatis Barnet, Co-founder and Administrator Hub City Animal Project; Mary Ann Deku, Educator and Community Volunteer; and Marsha Gibbs, The Gibbs Charitable Foundation.

Valerie Manatis Barnetwas nominated by her peers and this is what her nominator had to say about her, “Wherever Valerie goes she greatly impacts those around her. She is an unsung quiet hero in our community who has used her gifts to inspire, teach, and uplift, so many in Spartanburg.”

Professionally, Valerie teaches theatre at the Spartanburg Day School (grades 8 – 12) and directs 2 productions annually.  In the community, she serves on the boards of the Foundation for the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind, Sidewalk Hope and Mental Fitness, Inc.  She also places a high value on volunteerism by giving her time at The Journey as a Sunday school teacher.  Valerie is the co-founder and administrator of the non-profit, Hub City Animal Project.  HCAP empowers local animal welfare organizations that are proactively working to address the root causes of animal homelessness in Spartanburg County in order to create long-term change and reduce shelter intake.

Valerie Manatis Barnet is married to Bill Barnet and they have 3 grown children – Becca, Will and John. In her spare time Valerie enjoys exercising, reading and just “doing life” with her husband Bill and their dog, Honey.

When asked, members of our community often describe Mary Ann Deku as teacher, guidance counselor, humanitarian, mentor and change maker.  She was raised in St. Matthews, South Carolina and graduated from South Carolina State with a Bachelors of Science and Masters of Education. Using her education, and passion for preparing our youth for success, she worked for Spartanburg District 5 from 1967-1985 and District 7 from 1985-2005.

Even when Mary’s career was ever growing and demanding of her time and energy, she always found time to serve others. While she may be known as an accomplished professional, she is perhaps more so characterized for her philanthropic work in the Spartanburg community. Mary believes that giving back begins with changing one life at a time. While her accolades for community involvement are many and impressive, she says her favorite activity is throwing birthday parties for individuals without family; changing the world one life at a time.

Honors for Mary’s professional and community service include: 2004 Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year, 2006 Humanitarian Award for NAACP, 2007 Mary L. Thomas Civic Leadership and Community Change Award, 2010 City of Spartanburg Community Weaver, Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce Noisemaker Award and the list goes on.

Mary is very active in the League of Women Voters of Spartanburg County.  She has chaired numerous projects and served as the president 3 times and is currently serving her 4th term. Because of the alarming lack of education about political issues and the political process right here in our own communities, Mary has devoted herself to registering voters, getting voters out on Election Day and planning and holding elections for the Spartanburg Housing Authority Residents.

Mary Ann Deku has committed her entire life doing her part building a strong community for all those who live in Spartanburg.  She has often stated that her motto is “If I can help somebody, then my living will not be in vain” and Mary has accomplished that. Girl Scouts of South Carolina- Mountains to Midlands is honored to present Mary Ann Deku with the 2018 Women of Distinction Award for Spartanburg.

Marsha H. Gibbs,a lifetime resident of Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Professionally, Marsha is a member of the executive management team at Gibbs International, Inc., where she works alongside her husband, Jimmy Gibbs.  She has become an influential leader in the Spartanburg community, and continually strives to empower others to fulfill their maximum potential. With a unique style of her own, not only has she helped to build one of the most successful private businesses in South Carolina, but has touched many lives with her generosity and caring as is evident in her role as Director of The Gibbs Foundation.   Her professional career has taken her to many countries and continents where she has experienced many cultures and diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds.  All of this has allowed her to share her faith not only with her own community, but with communities around the world.  She is a member of First Baptist Church of Spartanburg and her faith is the cornerstone of her life- from her business and family, to her friendships and philanthropy.

Mrs. Gibbs has an associate degree in business from Spartanburg Community College and graduated from The Barbizon School of Modeling and Finishing.  She is the author of “Growing with Grace”.

Marsha currently serves on the Board of Directors of Carolina Alliance Bank, Spartanburg Regional Foundation and Converse College. She is an active advocate in the community and has received numerous awards, including the 2003 Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce Neville Holcombe Outstanding Citizenship Award (with her husband, Jimmy) and the Wofford College Mary Mildred Sullivan Award .Mrs. Gibbs is also a 2004 Paul Harris Fellow, a 2004 Salvation Army Toast of the Town Honoree, the 2004-2005 United Way Volunteer of the Year for Spartanburg County, and was the Honorary Chair of The Imagination Library of Spartanburg and Union Counties and the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award for Converse College in 2010.  Marsha is honored to have been involved with educational institutions in Spartanburg and that is well noted by the presence of the Marsha Gibbs Tri Delta Sorority House at Wofford College and the Marsha H. Gibbs Fieldhouse on the campus of Converse College. She also served as a tri-chair for the Hospice Home in Spartanburg.

7News, WSPA-TV, is the Media Sponsor for the November 12, 2018 Women of Distinction Awards Dinner.

For ticket and/or sponsorship information on this annual fundraising event, please contact Anne Smith, Director, Annual Fund Development at, call 1-800-849-GIRL (4475), or visit

For more than 100 years, Girl Scouting has helped girls develop positive values and become active, responsible leaders in their communities. With emphasis on personal growth and leadership development through service to others, Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Girl Scouts of South Carolina-Mountains to Midlands serves 11,500 girls, grades K5-12, and 4,700 adults in 22 counties of central and western South Carolina, including Abbeville, Aiken, Anderson, Cherokee, Chester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Greenville, Greenwood, Kershaw, Lancaster, Laurens, Lexington, McCormick, Newberry, Oconee, Pickens, Richland, Saluda, Spartanburg, Sumter, and Union.

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