Lily Tomlin works for health care, gay rights

Mistress of Ceremonies works hard to make a difference

Boston should consider itself very lucky indeed to have Lily Tomlin’s endorsement as her “good luck” city. The Emmy-Tony-Grammy-winning actress — who will act as emcee for today’s Power of Women Lifetime Impact luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel — has worked for the city’s Fenway Health organization over the past three decades, leading her to anoint Beantown with this designation.

But in the course of chatting with the comic star, it seems entirely in keeping with her self-effacing nature that she downplays how relentlessly she has worked on behalf of health issues and other causes.

“I’ve worked on fund-raising over the years. and what’s impressive is how the organization has grown and grown,” says Tomlin, who was bestowed with Fenway’s Dr. Susan M. Love Award. “They’re now associated with Harvard Medical, and they’ve even got a brand new 10-story building and a really groundbreaking women’s health department.”

Along with Fenway Health, whose capital fund Tomlin and longtime life and creative partner Jane Wagner have repped as honorary co-chairs, Tomlin finds time to also support Sen. Barbara Boxer’s re-election campaign and what she describes as “several women’s and gay rights programs and initiatives.”

Like so many Hollywood luminaries, Tomlin seems tireless in balancing her prolific career with her various philanthropic and political endeavors. In the last two years, she’s worked in TV on “Damages” and “Desperate Housewives” while maintaining her schedule of “about 30-to-50” live shows a year.

“I also channel most of my interest in animal rights issues through Voice of the Animals Foundations,” she says. “It’s well-known that elephants are harmed by being held in zoos. … The only reason a zoo has an elephant exhibit is money. They’re very popular, but they’re also very wrong.”

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