CoServ nonprofit spotlight: ‘I believe in Me’ song captures City House stay
Ron Bultongez performs in Plano and recently performed for Hurricane Harvey evacuees in Dallas. See a video and photo gallery below. (Photos by KEN OLTMANN / CoServ)
By DAWN COBB / CoServ
An acoustic blues and soul singer, Ron Bultongez and his guitar go wherever anyone will listen.
From his hometown of Plano to the Thin Line Fest in Denton, Bultongez is living his dream – writing and performing music.
A year ago, Bultongez was homeless – one of thousands of young people in Denton, Collin and neighboring counties – and relying on City House
in Plano for shelter, food and assistance.
What makes Bultongez, 21, stand out in any crowd is evident in one emotive song written during his stay at City House.
"I believe in me
I believe in me
Cuz nobody else will
I believe in me”
“Through the good days and the bad ones
I am a fighter
I’ve got the heart of a lion
Every struggle and opportunity
When I’m overwhelmed and I can barely breathe
"I will dream the dream I will choose to dream
And I will be the me that I will choose to be
I think I can
I know I can
I feel it
And I’d climb up every mountain just to see it
No matter what happens in my life
I believe in me”
This belief brought him through years of struggle – from losing touch with his mother and siblings to dealing with the judgment of peers to realizing a dream of football stardom would not come to fruition. Yet in spite of life’s downturns, he found support in new friends, City House and his strong belief in God.
He penned soulful lyrics that capture the essence of believing in oneself no matter the circumstances.
Ron Bultongez sings James Bay’s “Let it Be” in Plano’s McCall Plaza. Read about City House and Ron’s story in the CoServ Edition of September’s Texas Co-op Power magazine.
Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bultongez recalls vivid scenes of child soldiers, chaos and fear. Though merely a child when he immigrated to the U.S., the memories left enough of an impression that he dreams of one day returning to help those children whose faces remain imprinted in his mind.
His family settled in the Plano area but, as he grew older, Bultongez found himself at odds with the traditional ways of his father’s homeland. The conflict sent him into the streets – a story not dissimilar to that of other homeless teens.
He first found a new home at My Friend’s House, a City House emergency shelter for newborns to 18-year-olds.
“When you’re at My Friend’s House, they cook for you, you have a chauffeur (someone offering rides), toys, clothes and other kids that have been through what you have,” Bultongez said.
The experience creates its own unique sense of family.
From My Friend’s House, he graduated to the Transitional Living Program, which offers support and counseling for those 18 and above to help them transition into adulthood. He stayed with the program until last year.
“City House realizes a lot of people at that age don’t have it all together,” he said.
Along the way, he found music. A $10 keyboard from one friend, an unused guitar from another. Self-taught on both instruments, Bultongez’s keen ear for music created an opportunity to develop his own style.
In the past year, Bultongez
has performed at local restaurants like Angela’s at the Crosswalk and special events such as a Legends game where he sang “America the Beautiful.” He auditioned for The Voice and recently released his first album titled “Thank You, Plano.”
Bultongez also recently performed for evacuees brought to Dallas to the convention center following Hurricane Harvey and was featured in an MTV video
City House in PlanoWHERE:
901 18th St., Plano, TX 75074CONTACT:
(972) 424-4626 or cityhouse.orgNEEDED:
Paper towels for all four facilities; gift cards from IKEA (for furniture and twin beds), Walmart (Visa and Master Card for specific items for residents), Kroger and Tom Thumb; Funds or assistance with air conditioner repairs and replacement; and 10 iPads.