with Sara Massey
There is strength in numbers, and that is exactly what Truth + Dare found in this girl gang. We sat down with Cat Collins, Caroline Franklin, and Annie Edgecombe to ‘check out’ their work for Without Walls, a campus-wide (and SEC-wide) worship night. We wanted to learn more about this year’s Without Walls this Sunday, November 5 at 7pm at the Tuscaloosa River Market.
Give me a brief summary of what Without Walls is.
Caroline + Annie: A worship night that has no division, no affiliation, no Greek affiliation, no race, church. It is simply everyone coming together to worship one God. We all worship one God, just in different forms, and this way we can all come together. We want to break down those walls that we put up to separate us, whether that is race, gender, age, Greek affiliation, all of those different things.
How did Without Walls come to be?
Cat: I have to give credit to The Lord for putting this idea in my head. I did not think I had time, that no one wanted to help me, it was my last semester of senior year. I continued to dismiss it, but The Lord kept bringing it back up. I eventually told a few of my girlfriends about it and they thought it was great. Five of us, myself, Anna Beth Lancaster, Katie Smitherman, Ann Kay Alexander, and Charlotte Gladney, had our first meeting in the Chi Omega informal living room. The ideas and connections they had were amazing, and it was these girls building me up that helped me to continue. It first started here in Alabama, then Mississippi State heard about it and wanted to bring together the entire SEC. All fourteen schools, one night, the same time, one God, Without Walls. However, this Sunday is only Alabama, we are expanding to the SEC and other conferences for the spring semester.
What is your involvement with Without Walls?
Cat: I say that I am the founder, but I didn’t do it alone.
Caroline: Last year I attended, helped pass out stickers, and spread the word. This year, I oversee marketing and outreach. So far I have been gathering groups of people together to go seek out different organization’s involvement with Without Walls, heading up a team to pass out capris suns with Without Walls information, talking to students on campus.
Annie: Cat handed it down to me in a sense. She still is involved, but I am filling that role on campus she had last year along with Reave.
What was the most challenging thing about the Without Walls process?
Cat: To my surprise there were not too many challenges. I am no event planner, and the planning came so easy. The hardest part was finding somewhere to host the event, because we wanted everyone to feel comfortable and welcome. I also had to carry a rug from Chi Omega to the stadium so that was challenging.
Annie: Last year we did have so many people that loved it so much and thought it was so incredible. This year, with it being in the fall and just Alabama, it has been hard not to compare it. On top of that, getting the freshman involved. We all experienced it and loved it last year, but the freshmen don’t know what Without Walls is, or what to expect.
What was the most surprising thing about the Without Walls process?
Cat: When I first started this, I thought no one wanted to help. It began with five women in a sorority house living room, and turned into over one hundred people showing up early to be greeters, hanging string lights on their own, and everyone having the same goal. That thought I had that no one wanted to help was such a lie.
Caroline: The turnout. The amount of people that came, meeting so many people on campus from different organizations that I never would have run into otherwise.
Do you think the fact that a group of women did this had any impact on the event, how it was run, or how campus perceived the event?
Cat: To be honest, I am not sure. I don’t think a lot of people knew how it started, or that it was my idea. I remember announcing this in [Chi Omega sorority] chapter and everyone was so amazed that it was five women. The support that came from that was incredible.
What advice would you give college women that have an idea for an event or an initiative but don’t know where to begin?
Cat: If you have an idea, run with it. Don’t let the idea of it being silly or that it may never happen get to you. You are going to tell yourself that, but it is not true. Talk to people, talk to other girls that are helpful, encouraging, and will have your back in planning something like this. The Bible says that when God created Adam, it was not good for the man to be alone. Basically, it is not complete without the woman.
Caroline: Cat shared the idea with her friends first and found connections that way. Reach out past your main organizations and find people that will build you up.
Annie: Start with your support system and bounce it off them. Making those connections are crucial.
These three women are clearly exceptional, but we wanted to get to know them further than just their Without Walls experience.
What is the most interesting thing about you?
Cat: I like to look and see if someone is right handed or left handed by their body language. Also, I play the harp and love painting and calligraphy.
Caroline: I was stranded in the World’s worst blizzard in New York over spring break. I also survived catching on fire.
Annie: The past five summers I have been to YoungLife camp and have served as a camp counselor there.
If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
Cat: If you forced me outside of the country, Greece. I would prefer to stay here, and go to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Caroline: England, because my ideal day would be having tea in England. Or Switzerland and marrying Roger Federer.
Annie: I am an education major, so I would love to go somewhere in the US in a rural community so I could teach those children.
What are you doing now and how do you lean on other women to support you through your endeavors?
Cat: I am currently in law school at Samford University Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham. I have to mention my role model, my grandmother, Governor Collins. She is my role model in life and encouraged me throughout Without Walls, and even after the fact. Seeing how she accomplished so much in her life still encourages me through what I do. But other women in law school are facing the same challenges as I am, and we all recognize the challenges of aspiring to be a female attorney. However, we all encourage each other through it. Law school is very competitive, but these girls have been so helpful and truly want to see me succeed.
Caroline: I am a Church of the Highlands intern. It is a small group with six other girls, and they are there for me every single day. No matter what I am going through, they always lift me up, build me up, and give all their time and dedication. It is so worth it making new friendships with these girls.
Annie: I am in a special education and elementary education group called the Multiple Abilities Program. There are twenty-six girls in this rigorous program that not many people know about. The most incredible thing is having their support and feedback. There aren’t any boys, which is kind of fun. We did a compliment exercise and it was incredible and very empowering.
In the spirit of the Truth + Dare blog, which would you pick? Truth or Dare?
Cat: I would have to go with Truth. I feel like there is so much depth to someone and Without Walls was directly designed to break down those barriers, not only between people, but within yourself and the truth breaks these walls down as well. I am all about a deep conversation and knowing someone to their fullest extent. I like to know everything about someone and encourage them in that way.
Caroline: Dare, duh! Dare definitely brings out my adventurous side.
Annie: Truth, because I think a lot of people hide their feelings and emotions and I like to get deep with people.
The way these women are making moves around campus is inspiring to all of us at Truth + Dare, and we are so proud to be surrounded by women as strong as them. They are more than excited for Without Walls, this Sunday, November 5 at the Tuscaloosa River Market at 7pm. Cat, Caroline, and Annie urge you to come find them -- they would love to meet you and talk with you.