Local woman answers call to serve

Ramona Torres drops off books to Chaplain Isaac Burkholder at Franklin County Jail. PROVIDED PHOTO

Ramona Torres is living what her heart has called her to do–to serve.

Torres, of Chambersburg, hosts the podcast “Girlfriends Talking,” a support network for women, and collects and distributes items that help them get back on their feet. She also serves as treasurer and member of the prison ministry committee at Franklin County Jail and works as an office manager for an early intervention company.

Torres founded Girlfriends Talking in 2015 and added it as a social media platform three years later.

“It started out with me having conversations with women in my home or their home or coffee shops, talking about their stories,” she said. “Once I shared mine we realized we had a lot in common. Everybody has a story. They all matter.”

Those tuning in to the podcast will hear notable speakers and authors on a variety of topics, as well as bloggers, according to Torres. “Some women have traumatic things to work through. We encourage them to be an example to other women,” she said. “Look at other women who have gone through the same thing and are now living life to the fullest. God has restored them. Girlfriends Talking gives them a platform to share their story and what God is doing now. They share their faith and testimony. It gives women hope.”

Torres had her own challenges growing up.

“I come from divorced parents. My mother left. My dad raised me,” Torres explained. “She knew my father was a good man and I would be in good hands. Not having my mom created issues with me. I grew up with low self esteem, really craving love that only a mother could give me.”

Torres, the youngest of four children, reconnected with her mother and they have a relationship today. “We have made peace,” she said. “[I understand] Nobody grows up and says, ‘I’m going to leave my husband and children.’ She had issues.”

At 17, Torres married and she and her husband have three sons. “We divorced and that created issues for my children. Torres and her current husband have been married 23 years. “In sharing [my story] now, looking back, I tell women, ‘Don’t give up. Go to counseling. Do what you can to preserve the marriage for the sake of the children. They’re the ones who end up losing,’” she said.

Torres said some of the first women she met with were the wives of pastors. “I created a safe space where they didn’t feel judged. They can’t share and open up to everyone,” she explained. “We can always go to God. When you keep secrets, the enemy can continue to use it and keep you in bondage and shame. That’s how this all came about. You don’t focus so much on your story, but what did God do once you released it to him.”

The idea for ‘Girlfriends Talking’ also took root at Franklin County Jail, when Torres began leading Bible studies for women incarcerated there. “I realized, we have so much in common. I was walking around incarcerated, even though I was free to walk around,” she said. “Those women behind bars and I have experienced some of the same things–wanting the love of their mother; married to the wrong person; divorced; not having the best relationship with their children–everything from A to Z. Some of these women struggled with drugs and alcohol. You grow up watching movies where boy meets girl and they live happily ever after. It doesn’t always happen that way. If you’re not given the tools, it’s not easy and you repeat those patterns.”

Torres’ latest passion is the fatherless generation. “God is using me now,” she said. “He is opening my eyes to the injustice of fathers losing out in court … if I can save one.”

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