Best Free Service
Accounting students, Metropolitan State College of Denver
It's bad enough that Uncle Sam takes a healthy chunk out of your already meager paycheck. Then, come April, you either have to figure your taxes yourself or shell out more precious coin for someone else to do it. Now, to the rescue, come Metro State accounting students. If you make $25,000 or less per annum, the students (upperclassmen who've completed most of their required accounting courses) will do your taxes for free. The program runs every Saturday and Sunday afternoon in the spring.
Readers' choice: 16th Street Mall shuttle
Best Free Service for the Unemployed
Jefferson County Public Library
Looking for a job is a job in itself. But wouldn't it be nice if you could sit down in one place and peruse help-wanteds from across the country? Several Jeffco libraries--Arvada, Columbine, Evergreen, Lakewood, Standley Lake and Villa--subscribe to Help Wanted U.S.A., a service that allows you to do just that. Newspaper ads from 64 cities, from Boston to Seattle, are compiled weekly on microfiche. Of course, you have to supply the elbow grease. Happy hunting.
Best Free Service for Couch Potatoes
Denver TCI Cable Channel 8
Usually when you tune in to Denver's municipal cable station Channel 8, you'll find interminable city council meetings or something called Meet the Mayor. Lucky for you, there's a remote in your hand. But we'll bet you didn't know that Channel 8 has a library containing hundreds of educational and informational videos featuring everything from French lessons to author interviews--or that you can request that any one of them be broadcast between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Fridays. Free catalogues are available at Denver libraries or by calling the station. That's entertainment--we think.
Best Art Service for Couch Potatoes
Art Information, Inc.
3000 S. Jamaica Ct., Aurora
Welcome to the modern world: Art Information's video catalogue system makes it possible to view up to 27,000 images that are available as posters or limited editions. The laser display system--brainchild of Aurora entrepreneur David Beckers and available for use at around 300 galleries worldwide, including numerous ones in the metro area--makes it easy to pinpoint the exact artwork you're looking for by breaking the images down by categories such as artist name, subject matter, color, size and price range. You just sit back until the poster you want comes up; if it fits your budget, it can then be ordered for you. Isn't that way more sophisticated than the Home Shopping Network?
Best Alternative Babysitting
Short Stop for Kids
162 Adams St.
For parents tired of adjusting their social schedules to the whims of teenage girls, there's an option: Short Stop for Kids, a drop-in child-care center, situated in a cheery house in Cherry Creek North and run by two sisters, Meg and Caroline Schomp. They're nice, they like kids (older than two and a half) and they're there until 11 on Friday and Saturday nights (reservations required for Saturdays).
Best Daycare Referral Service
Denver Association of Family Child Care
The Denver Association of Family Child Care is a network of providers that keeps an up-to-date list of who's got openings. Members are arranged geographically by zip code, so just tell them what zip you're in and they'll give you the names and numbers of people in that area who are licensed and have openings. No kidding.
Best Liquid Assets
The Dry Dames
Ladies, can we talk? There's nothing funny about incontinence--nothing funny, that is, unless the Dry Dames are doing their routine. Started by Rita Martel, a University Hospital nurse practitioner, this trio of talented (and obviously unflappable) performers makes appearances across the region, offering musical advice and moral support for women who suffer from poor bladder control. All together now: "I'm leaking on a jet plane, no one will ever know. Oh, babe, I've got to go..."
Best Surrogate Mothers
MotherCare of America
It used to be that when you had a baby, your mother--or someone like your mother--would almost assuredly come to help out during the first few sleepless weeks of learning to live with it. And in those pre-HMO days, hospital maternity wards weren't so darned anxious to boot you and your newborn out the door to make room for the next paying customer. But things aren't so simple or nuclear any more. MotherCare of America's Joan Goode offers new moms a doula service (a Greek term that means something like "mother for the mother"), which dispatches a crew of highly maternal helpers into homes for a few hours a day (or more, if needed) during those first weeks of parental adjustment to help with the little things--like breastfeeding, making lunch or bathing the babe. But hurry; Goode is already taking reservations for the popular service.