ROCHESTER, Minn. — Like everyone else, sisters Rioghna and Hannah Pittock spent the first few minutes feeling sorry for themselves.
Rioghna, a junior at Rochester Mayo High School, had spring sports to play.
Hannah, a senior at University of Chicago, was headed to spring break in Aruba.
All of it cancelled by COVID-19, the sisters now sit at home – solving Rochester’s problems.
“She needs to be matched and she’s a nurse,” Hannah tells her sister, both staring into computer screens.
The daughters of two Mayo Clinic doctors birthed their plan Saturday on the drive home from picking up Hannah in Chicago.
“Nothing like family bonding to really get the ideas pumping,” Rioghna laughs.
With schools closing, the sisters knew Mayo medical workers would need childcare. At the same time, teens throughout Rochester were off school.
On Sunday, one day after their family road trip, Hannah and Rioghna launched Step Up To SIT.
Already they’ve paired more than 40 families with sitters.
“This is the young people in the community stepping up to do their part,” Hannah says.
15-year-old Sofia Haakinson is one of them.
“It’s kind of just a way that I’m having an impact on people’s lives in this hard time,” the Mayo High School freshman said.
Once teens are matched with families, they are paired for the duration. “Because we want to minimize contact between children,” Rioghna says.
Four days in, 160 teens have registered to help, most willing to work free if paired with a family in need.
Mayo clinics in Arizona and Florida have reached out to the sisters for help too.
On Tuesday, the sisters launched Step Up To Shop, a platform for teens delivering groceries to seniors.
Hannah acknowledges people her age sometimes get a bad rap as smartphone-obsessed and selfish.
The Pittock sisters are proving otherwise.
“People should be allowed to be upset and allowed to be a little bit down about the disruption to their lives, but it’s about something bigger and recognizing we all have our part play here,” Hannah says.
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The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
More information on the coronavirus:
- Facts not fear: What the Midwest should know about coronavirus
- Current number of presumptive coronavirus cases in Minnesota and Wisconsin
- Coronavirus-related cancellations, postponements and impacts in the Twin Cities
- Here are the common symptoms of coronavirus
- What are the 'underlying conditions' that make coronavirus more serious?