On July 14, 2017, an out-of-control fire, later described as “the most destructive highrise fire in Hawaii history,” raged through the Marco Polo, a tower condominium in downtown Honolulu Hawaii. It resulted in the deaths of four individuals as well as Eddy, a small rescue dog who died along with his owner, Marco Polo resident Britt Reller. The Community Kōkua Foundation for Fire Safety and Recovery was established by the family members and friends of the people who died there, in the hope that “something good” could emerge from the ashes that would honor their memories.
The mission of the Community Kokua Foundation for Fire Safety and Recovery, is to “equip the larger community with the tools it needs to prevent fires and restore lives devastated by fire, including education, advocacy, and public/private partnerships.” The foundation was incorporated as a non-profit in 2018, received 501c3 status from the Internal Revenue Service in 2019 and, with the pandemic abating in 2021 is in now the process of developing a number of projects, including the Eddy Project for Pet Fire Safety to achieve its goals.
Other initiatives being developed include establishment of a loan fund for people whose homes were severely damaged, assistance in retrofitting single family homes to make them more fire safe with a focus on the elderly and people with disabilities, and offering fire preparedness presentations to civic groups, schools, and homeowners associations.
The board of directors has grown from its original four founding members to ten, including people with expertise in trauma, the legal system, and property management.