The Bridge, a development group of former Penn State football player Garry Gilliam, remains an ongoing work.
And progress has been steady on the site of Harrisburg, the former Bishop McDevitt High School located on Market Street in the city.
This is saying something, as the country is still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic that started in early 2020.
Gilliam, who played at Penn State for the late Joe Paterno and later for Bill O’Brien in 2012 and 2013. He began his career as a tight end and finished it as a linebacker. Gilliam lasted five NFL seasons with Seattle and San Francisco.
Gilliam was at Old McDevitt on Saturday, along with former Penn State advocate director Austin Johnson, to participate in a fundraising “Legacy of Lions” event, which was formed to revitalize inner cities throughout the country.
The effects of COVID-19 may have been an issue initially for Gilliam’s group, which started the field at McDevitt last November. But Gilliam, a graduate of Milton Hershey, said the pandemic “accelerated the need for The Bridge, revealed and magnified some of the problems we want to solve.”
Upon completion, The Bridge in Harrisburg will be a place and a space for city residents to work, eat, live, learn and play in a safe and innovative environment.
Gilliam said one of the first projects will affect McDevitt’s old gym.
“The first phase of construction will really be our gym, which will start in October and finish next summer (2022),” said Gilliam, who acquired the property from McDevitt in 2019.
According to Gilliam, the former gym will become a temporary medical clinic and will also provide a place to play virtual reality.
“Really a kind of small version of what our whole town will be like. It’s an event to raise money for this construction, ”Gilliam said.
Gilliam’s company will target abandoned properties, such as shopping malls, schools and warehouses, to turn them into ecovillages like McDevitt’s inaugural one.
The long-range plan requires ecovillages similar to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Houston, Phoenix, New Orleans and Scranton.
But Gilliam’s vision begins in Harrisburg, in McDevitt.
And Johnson is happy to be part of the group and his vision of Gilliam. Another former Penn Stater with links between the state, Jordan Hill, of Steel-High, is also part of the group.
“I was blessed that (Gilliam) called me and told me everything,” said Johnson, who is now in the New York Giants.
“I noticed it and I’m happy to be part of this group that is trying to build with a lot of Penn State guys.”
Gilliam acknowledged that his passage through Milton Hershey and later through Penn State shaped his desire to help people in need.
While playing at Paterno, Gilliam said he liked the show’s emphasis on academic and community commitments, in addition to the athletic side of the experience.
“That’s what we’re used to seeing,” Gilliam said, referring to former Penn State players.
“That strengthened him and I finally got to the NFL, so (I) had the means and the money to be able to make a move like that, to start being able to put the team together to make it to the NFL. community “.