SPRINGFIELD — One of the major Catholic helping agencies in Lane County has just posted a big “Help Wanted” sign.

After eight years with Catholic Community Services of Lane County, executive director Sue Paiement told the board of directors that she would be retiring in December. Paiement served as development director starting in 2013 and became executive director in 2019 when Tom Mulhern took the post as head of the county’s food bank.

From Florence to Oakridge and Junction City to Cottage Grove, Catholic Community Services helps the homeless, homeowners and renters at risk of losing their homes, refugees, immigrants and regular people who live paycheck to paycheck.

Msgr. Edmund Murnane began Catholic Community Services of Lane County in 1952, aiming to help clients build self-sufficiency. That’s still the mission, Paiement said.

She looks back with satisfaction on her tenure at the busy agency,

glad to have helped it become better known so that its work could expand.

“We were the best kept secret in Lane County,” she said.

At the direction of the board of directors, she and other staffers began reaching out to Catholic parishes, schools and the media. It worked.

At Archbishop Alexander Sample’s suggestion, Catholic Community Services upped its cooperation with Catholic Charities of Oregon and other church organizations.

The linkages brought in new donors and new energy. Paiement led tours of the offices and held an annual fundraising event — the Hour of Caring — that focused on stories and testimony from people who have received help.

Coming up is an expansion of the Springfield Community Service Center, which soon will have a 1,600-square-foot day center for homeless families with children. The City of Springfield and local public schools stepped forward as partners in the project.

Catholic Community Services also has installed tiny houses, including one on the grounds of St. Alice Parish in Springfield. Paiement hopes for more low cost housing, perhaps in Veneta.

She said the next executive director should excel at strategic planning to help the ministry expand even more.

Don Gordon, a member of St. Thomas More Parish in Eugene and chairman of the Catholic Community Services board, said Paiement has done well.

“There is a great amount of confidence among the staff and donors and board as far as what we have been doing in the past one and a half years,” said Gordon. Also happy are the government entities that look to the agency to do work for the common good. With wildfires and the pandemic, Catholic Community Services saw its government contracts increase to the point that the account for 70% of agency income.

Gordon said the new executive director will face challenges, including maintaining and enhancing a Catholic identity while doing that public sector work.

“The person has to have the hands and heart of Christ, a real feeling for and a real desire to help the disadvantaged and poor,” said Gordon.

Another challenge: Higher pay is needed to keep good people, Gordon said.