University of Pittsburgh
April 6, 1998


Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, April 7 -- Melissa Protzek, a second-year law student at the University of Pittsburgh, will be honored as the 1998 Volunteer of the Year by the Allegheny County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) on Saturday, April 18, at 7 p.m. in the Frick Art and Historical Center, Point Breeze.

The purpose of the award is to honor a volunteer who exemplifies the traits of an outstanding advocate for children and who assists CASA in spreading the word so that community awareness will be enhanced.

A CASA volunteer since 1996, Protzek has been a tireless advocate for the five children who have been assigned to her. She was instrumental in finding appropriate services for each child making sure the service met the children's needs, even in difficult situations. For instance, when one child ran away from home, Protzek spent hours searching for him, and when he was found, she strongly advocated for him to be placed in a highly specialized program which is now helping him to slowly gain a better future.

Protzek has also spoken with various potential volunteers, staffed CASA booths and participated in radio interviews about CASA. Her goal is for people to understand and respond to the needs of children in their community.

The award will be presented to Protzek by the Honorable Cheryl Allen Craig.

Protzek is currently the Co-president of the Pitt Legal Income Sharing Foundation, an organization that awards grants to students who work for public interest law groups during summers.

Protzek is the daughter of Darrell and Tina Protzek of Springdale.

Allegheny County CASA is a non-profit advocacy program for children in the child welfare system. For more information, please call 682-2324.