Socorro’s Gary Jaramillo has a new inspirational message for students and teachers.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

After a career as a police officer, firefighter and paramedic, Socorro’s Gary Jaramillo still gives back to his community with his inspirational message on the side of his home.

It reads: “God bless our children and teachers this school year. We Love You!”

“I had a great childhood,” Jaramillo said. “I think every child should have something they can remember.”

Jaramillo started his new tradition last year along El Camino Real Street with the idea that school children and teachers would see it on the way to school in the morning.

“I thought it’d be a neat thing because all of the buses for the middle school and the elementary school go right through here every day back and forth. And I thought it’d be a neat thing for the kids to see,” Jaramillo said. “I have little memories in my mind of special little things that adults did for me when I was growing up. When you’re a kid, you should get all those wonderful things because all those memories keep you going in your older days.”

At 70 years young, Jaramillo set out to update this year’s message before the school year started. While painting, he hit upon the idea of having local schoolchildren add to the message on the side of his home.

“Last year, I said ‘Have a great school year kids’ and then I said ‘We Love You!’ I added the teachers this year because I think they deserve recognition, too,” Jaramillo said. “I’m willing to pay for the paint and supplies if we have some teachers here in town who want their students to add to the message. I will also pay for the supplies to clean up the kids’ hands and stuff.”

Jaramillo’s retirement didn’t stop his musical career, and he’s well-known around the area for his lead vocal and musical skills.

“I have a good time, and I’m on Facebook. I have a little studio in the house, and I do all the songs from the 50s, 60s and 70s,” Jaramillo said.

He’s reached that magic Facebook number of 5,000 friends and gets requests for his music and birthday songs for people.

“I perform song requests and put them up on Facebook for people. People call me for them. I’ve got 5,000 friends or as many as you can have on Facebook. I get requests from all over the world for a birthday song,” Jaramillo said.

Because he has stopped musically touring, Jaramillo has been able to devote more attention to the requests he receives.

“People request these old songs that nobody does anymore. I do it for their birthdays or anniversaries, for their kids, whatever. I don’t tour anymore. I’m just laid back in my hometown and you know, getting up, waking up every day and trying to make a better day,” Jaramillo said.

Making better days is why Jaramillo encourages teachers to reach out to him 505-506-4279 if they would like to arrange a “field trip” to paint. “I’m going to leave the earth in the not-too-distant future. I wanted to do something just to kind of tell kids in my town that I care about them,” Jaramillo said.