He raises men to their potential
Community: He lives and works in Beloit, but he is the pastor of House of God Church in Janesville.
Occupation: Juvenile probation officer; owner, Kingdom Gyros and Wings on Park Avenue in Beloit; pastor, House of God Church in Janesville
Family: Wife, Joeann, 38, and nine children, ages 2 to 22
Education: Associate degree, Blackhawk Technical College; bachelor's degree, Upper Iowa University
Names of children: Daniel, 22; Darius, 21; Mary, 20; Keturah, 18; twins Joshua and Joseph, 16; Jacob, 14; Rebekah, 12; and Matthew, 2
To see him preach: House of God church meets at noon Sundays in Rock County Christian School, 5122 Driftwood Drive, Janesville. About 100 to 150 people attend.
On his career, restaurant, church and nine children: "I'm a busy guy. I've learned to, what do you call it, delegate authority."
On his church: "That's my first love."
On his children: "My kids mean the world to me."
JANESVILLE Wiping tears from his eyes, Dannie Evans became emotional when he thought about how far his life has come.
Evans, 42, was never much of a student. Nobody believed he could be successful. He was on welfare trying to support his wife and young children.
But his pastor encouraged him to chase his dreams. Evans later earned a degree, found a career, planted a church and opened his own restaurant.
He is now mentoring young, poverty-stricken black men in the same way he was mentored years ago. His mission is to help them succeed.
"We need some men in our community to stand up and be good examples," Evans said. "My passion is to help the underprivileged realize their potential."
Inside Evans' Beloit office, he is dressed in a gray suit and pink tie. His hair is graying on the side, long in the back. He opens the door for visitors. He addresses men as "sir."
Evans speaks softly and wears his heart on his sleeve. He apologizes for crying, but he's not embarrassed. He apologizes for talking at length about helping teens, but he can't help himself.
"That's one of the things that's undeniable about him is his passion for the kids in the community," said Dorothy Johnson, 29, a member of Evans' church. "That's his passion. It's kids. He's interested in improving their lives."
Evans grew up in a Christian home in Beloit's Merrill Neighborhood and remains there. He married as a teenager and has nine children. He graduated from Upper Iowa University and works as a juvenile probation officer.
He is the pastor at House of God Church in Janesville's Rock County Christian School, the first local church with black leadership. He also owns Kingdom Gyros and Wings on Park Avenue in Beloit.
His wife, Joeann, 38, a corporate controller for the Beloit Area Community Health Center, helps him track it all.
"I don't know how we do it," she said. "The only thing I can attribute it to is prayer and faith and God."
Evans regularly sees drug dealers and hears gunshots near his home. It is people like his teenage neighbors whom he wants to serve through his Janesville church.
He talks to teens about drugs, pregnancy and absentee fathers. He feels he has done his job if he helps one kid land in college instead of prison.
"The inner city doesn't have to hinder you," Evans said. "You can be anything you want to be."
A glance around Evans' desk reveals a lot about him. A portrait of his mentor, Alice Wooding, with the words "She taught me to believe" is on his wall. Pictures of Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King Jr. hang nearby.
Several pictures of his children decorate his shelves. A book titled "Keys for Leadership" is on his desk. An award for getting off welfare and an award for being a top college student are displayed.
He hopes to someday start a Saturday lunch program for the needy. He wants to buy land to build his church its own building. He plans to earn his master's degree. He may explore politics.
"God has been good to us," Evans said.