Chris & Bretton Hammond | Top 40 Under 40 2019

They creatively solve unemployment and waste problems by employing Jasper Place Wellness Centre clients.

Photograph by Aaron Pedersen

Age: 34 and 32

Job title: Co-directors, Redemptive Developments.

Why they’re 2019 Top 40 Under 40s: They creatively solve unemployment and waste problems by employing Jasper Place Wellness Centre clients.

Redemptive Developments began like many good ideas do: by posing a question without an immediate answer. Brothers Chris and Bretton Hammond asked themselves: How could they better help serve the vulnerable populations they were already serving?

The answer was threefold and presented itself over time, through plenty of observation. Bretton was a housing outreach worker for the Jasper Place Wellness Centre (JPWC), where he worked with chronically homeless individuals to locate and secure housing throughout the community. Meanwhile, Christopher was working for Find, which often provided furniture to JPWC for people transitioning out of homelessness.

On a daily basis, Bretton was hiring junk-removal and furniture companies in order to help clients through the JPWC. After he attended a conference that touched upon similar businesses that funnel revenue back into social programs, something clicked.

“We asked: what if we took all these services that we’re paying money for, and started offering those services to the community while employing our clients?” says Bretton. “There weren’t any models to base it on, so we just winged it.”

In 2011, the brothers left stable, government-funded jobs to carry heavy boxes and haul junk, working alongside clients they employed from the JPWC. This was the start of Junk4Good, the first of three businesses they operate under Redemptive Developments.

Working on the frontlines illuminated other fixable problems. They were constantly disposing of furniture that would be better suited in someone’s home than in a landfill pile. Meanwhile, many of the JPWC clients couldn’t afford new furniture and signed rent-to-own contracts that left them in worse financial strain than before. So, three years after opening the first business, the Hammonds started Salvage Reclaimed Furniture, a used furniture store that seeks to offer affordable pieces that would otherwise be discarded.

The last business idea also came from the brothers’ observations: They realized they were constantly throwing away mattresses, creating air pockets in landfills and using up far too much space. In fact, it was a city-wide problem that extended beyond their business. Their solution — Evergreen Recycling, the largest branch of Redemptive Developments — was born, employing up to 40 people at a time. It won a contract from the City of Edmonton, allowing it to recycle all mattresses that are disposed of through the Waste Management Centre eco-stations. Recently, the Hammonds opened a second location in Calgary.

Both brothers agree that the ability to help people with employment is a point of pride. “We’ve had some people who could just not hold down a job who have been with us for years. One staff member, who has autism, nobody would hire him and he’s been with us for nine years. He was originally homeless, but now he’s married and has a kid. He’s a real testament to what can be done when you give people an opportunity,” says Chris.

This article appears in the November 2019 issue of Avenue Edmonton.

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