As managing director of Phoenix House, a 45-bed, adolescent drug treatment center in Santa Ana, CA, Dallas M. Stout spends his days working with seriously addicted and often violent youth.
And somehow he also finds time to pursue his doctoral degree in family psychology-which he'll complete next June-at Azusa Pacific University, combining his more than 50-hour work week with his doctoral studies and a part-time internship at a county clinic. Fueling that drive, he says, is his dedication to combating community substance abuse and violence, a commitment he's been publicly recognized for: Stout was among six Orange County, CA, community activists who received the 2004 Ambassador of Peace Award this summer from the Violence Prevention Coalition of Orange County.
The coalition-a countywide affiliation of businesses, community organizations and public and private agencies-established the award eight years ago to recognize community leaders for their commitment to nonviolence. Stout, in fact, serves on several community groups dedicated to violence and substance abuse prevention while also maintaining a 3.7 grade point average and his marriage to another psychology doctoral student.
How does he juggle it all?
"At work and school, I have always surrounded myself with active, successful people who work hard," he says. "In this way, I can use their motivation when mine wavers." Plus, Stout adds, he does what he enjoys and is passionate about preventing drug abuse and violence-on which, he notes, the statistics are startling: In 2001, for example, there were 5.7 million violent crimes reported in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
"I see it all around us," he says. "I grew up in a rough area and that impacts one's mindset."
Stout says he never set out to win awards-in fact, he didn't even think he'd go to college when he was younger. But a high school peer-counseling class changed his mind, and he decided he wanted to help others. Now he's using his psychology training-and soon-to-be-completed doctorate-to help others.
In his view, receiving the Ambassador of Peace award is proof that his many activities and hectic schedule are all worth it-he's making a difference in his community.
-J. DAW HOLLOWAY