CITRUS HEIGHTS, Calif. — Dominic Papa got his first job as a volunteer in 2012 with Citrus Heights Police Department at 37 years old. Papa wrote citations, patrolled the streets, and helped keep the town safe.

Papa is non-verbal, using an aide and an iPad to communicate. So the job meant more to him than it might have for others.

"Work means more than a pay check — it yields independence, dignity, and a sense of belonging." Papa said through his iPad translator.

While working with the police department, Papa, who is now 45, jumped into another role — giving speeches to businesses and community leaders on the importance of inclusion in the workplace.

Papa has become a voice for those living with disabilities trying to find a place in the work force. After years of advocacy and help from the city, he is making a way for all to be represented when it comes to equal employment.

After dozens of presentations and out-pour from those around him, the city of Citrus Heights awarded Papa with $2,499 grant to help support his efforts to educate and be a voice for those with disabilities.

"Since 2018, the city of Citrus Heights has entrusted me to convey through my presentations that a workplace that infuses interest and concern for its employees as people first is able to attract a high-quality work force," Papa said.

Two years after receiving the grant, Papa said he continues to see the results of his efforts as people have changed the way they look and interact with him and others, who were once seen as limited.

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Monica Coleman.



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