The Student Recovery Organization hosts Pay It Forward event tonight

Amanda Guillen , Editor-in-Chief

Pay it forward and being the change are just some of the phrases that are the topics of tonight’s event hosted by the Student Recovery Organization at UTEP.

From 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Union Cinema, the SRO will host a reception, sponsored by the UTEP’s Collegiate Recovery Program, and will screen the 2000 film “Pay It Forward,” starring Haley Joel Osment, Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt. Along with the movie, screening a panel discussion about the movie with guests from the Peak Behavioral Center, the University Concealing Center and Alcoholics Anonymous will discuss the movies topics and themes which include suicide, alcoholism and depression. The program will also include activities and raffles.

The guest host will be chief meteorologist for KFOX/CBS4, Sandra Diaz, who has a pay it forward segment.

Senior business management major Richard Blancas, 55, is the president of SRO, and according to advisor Lydia Hernandez, has spearheaded tonight’s event.

Blancas said this event was one that he, along with the rest of the SRO members, worked hard to put together.

“We wanted to bring awareness that we all do random acts of kindness, but we often aren’t aware of it, and now with people like Sandra Diaz, with KFOX she does this on a regular basis for her audience and I wanted to bring it on campus to bring awareness so that we can make a difference,” Blancas said.

As of today, according to a proclamation signed by Mayor Oscar Leeser, April 25 will be Pay It Forward Day in El Paso.

The proclamation states that at tonight’s event two members of the UTEP community, who recently passed away, will be remembered for their personification of the Pay it Forward movement, Blancas said.

Senior microbiology major Francisco Carrasco III, who was a member of SRO, and  history professor Richard Foust will be remembered during the event.

Blancas, who after 25 years has returned to UTEP to continue his education, is 11 years clean and sober and hopes that this event and SRO will help educate students and slowly remove any social stigmas that are present in today’s society.

“For people like me, who are in recovery, we come into a hostile environment, when I was younger and in school it was all about drinking and hanging out, and you get the peer pressure and that affects you it affects your performance on campus,” Blancas said. “I had to drop out when I was younger, but it also provides a safe environment where people can feel comfortable with what their problems and they don’t have to feel obligated to drink or do drugs.”

Currently SRO has 16 registered members on MineTracker and is seeking not only those in recovery but allies as well.

For more information on SRO, you can visit their Facebook page at

Amanda Guillen may be reached at [email protected]