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'We want to just help families,' Oliver's Stones donates headstones to families who suddenly lose a loved one

Oliver's Stones
Posted at 9:41 AM, Sep 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-19 09:41:12-04

LANSING, Mich. — Oliver Salfate was loved by his entire family but especially by his mom Cindy Salfate and sister Ali Svoboda.

"He was eccentric, he had his own style, his own way of life and just a lovable guy," Svoboda said. "Funny, loved to travel, loved his mom. He was also a mama's boy.”

When Oliver died suddenly on Jan. 14, 2021, from complications of an aneurysm, their family was left with a missing piece.

“Oliver is missed very, very much by myself, my family, our community and his friends,” Salfate said.

Similar to Oliver, Trevor Guilding was loved by many, especially his son Caiden.

“Super easygoing, laid back, honestly would do anything for anybody," said Britnee Redfield. "Whether that be working on vehicles or going, picking someone up, going getting something for someone.”

Trevor died unexpectedly Dec. 1, 2021.

“He was 36 when he passed,” Redfield said.

Trevor and Oliver's families didn't know each other before they lost their loved ones, but they came together for the first time to see Trevor's headstone.

“It took Trevor four, five months to get his stone," Salfate said. "I mean, it was just put in, I would say the beginning of the summer. It was June or July.”

Trevor's headstone was donated by Salfate and Svoboda's nonprofit Oliver's Stones, designed to families in need who lose a loved one unexpectedly between the ages of 15-39.

“We wanted to reach out to people and help them once that needs a little bit of help for unexpected funeral and headstone and that's how we started Oliver's Stones because we knew Oliver would want to give,” Salfate said.

Without the help of friends and family, Salfate said they wouldn't have been able to give Oliver the funeral, grave and headstone he and they needed.

“We live very close to Oliver's site, so I visit it quite often," Salfate said. "It's on my way home, so I'll stop, put new flowers on and just have a conversation with Oliver, especially if I'm having a bad day. I'm like, 'oh my gosh, you wouldn't believe, Oliver, what happened.' It's very, very therapeutic for me, and I imagine it would be for any mother.”

When Redfield came across Oliver's Stones, they filled out an application.

“We have a form that they fill out and just let us know about their family and what they were like," Svoboda said. "We don't need to know anything more than what made those families smile about the person that they love. They can share as much or as little as they need to with us.”

Redfield has no idea they would be the first family helped by Oliver's Stones.

“It was very heartwarming and touching," Redfield said. "It took a lot off of us, took a lot off my mind."

Now, Redfield and Caiden have a place to go to grieve and celebrate like they did for his birthday Sept. 12.

“It was a big, just huge relief and something that Caiden can come and actually just sit out here and be able to talk, and I guess his way of communicating with his dad," Redfield said. "Before the headstone it didn't seem like it was real and for him, it's big.”

So far, Oliver's Stones has helped five families in Michigan, Minnesota and Oklahoma and are currently helping a family in New Jersey.

Oliver's Stones raises money through GoFundMe, farmers markets and raffles.

Anyone interested in donating can check out their Facebook page.

Anyone in need of a headstone can fill out this form.

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