Our story begins when one Georgian, Rezo Chinchaladze, and one American, Cathy McLain,

wanted to make a difference in the world of disabilities in Georgia.

Cathy and Rezo meet Jeremy

In 2005, Jeremy Gaskill, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zestaponi, invited Cathy, an educational psychologist, to help his new NGO evaluate children with disabilities and develop a program for them. Rezo came along as translator. When they arrived at the village, they were confronted with a long line of parents and grandparents holding their children. Cathy was horrified to learn that Georgia had no programs, no facilities, no equipment, and much misinformation about disabilities.  Rezo was overwhelmed with compassion for these children’s plight.

Lives were changed

Parents were seeking the right doctor or medication to cure their child’s cerebral palsy, autism, or intellectual delay. Families were angry when they were told there is no cure, and they must focus on independent living. In time, Rezo and Cathy traveled from house-to-house, village-to-village, evaluating hundreds of children with disabilities in 56 villages, giving names to children’s disabilities, sharing information that could help. Concepts such as independent living, vocational skills, and functional education were foreign concepts in these places at this time.

A partnership was forged

After unsuccessfully trying to work with various international organizations; Rezo, Cathy, and Roy Southworth, Cathy’s husband, formed McLain Association for Children (MAC) with Rezo as its director. MAC hired and trained the best psychologists and occupational therapists that Georgia produced and spread the word about disabilities to all who listened. When MAC became too large to manage alone, Jeremy Gaskill was invited back as CEO to help MAC become more efficient and to finish the work he helped start.

the McLain Association for Children

MAC has educated hundreds of teachersparentscommunity leaders, and institutional staff about disabilities and has encouraged children in outlying regional areas to go to university through their scholarship program. Massage therapists are taught techniques for working more efficiently with children; autistic children have a voice because their parents participate in MAC’s parents’ group, and the first IQ test in Georgia was normed by MAC.